U of T Medicine to Celebrate Norman Bethune

Apr 30, 2014

The University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine today announced plans to celebrate the legacy of one its most famous graduates — Dr. Norman Bethune — on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of his death.

“Like the Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Bethune was committed to international service and nowhere did he make a bigger mark than in China,” said Faculty of Medicine Dean Catharine Whiteside. “To honour his spirit, we are undertaking a series of activities that are intended to celebrate Dr. Bethune and remind us of his important contributions.”

On Friday May 30, the Faculty will unveil a statue of Bethune, designed by award-winning Canadian artist David Pellettier. The statue will be located on Queen’s Park Crescent between the Medical Sciences Building and the McMurrich Building. It was made possible by the generosity of Chinese business leaders Zhang Bin and Niu Gensheng. Their gift, which is intended to honour the spirit of Bethune and his commitment to improving lives, will also fund student awards and bursaries.

Bethune Gala Chair Justin Poy announced plans to celebrate Bethune’s legacy. “In creating this sculpture, Mr. Pellettier has sought to depict a life-sized seated Dr. Bethune in a rare moment of quiet contemplation,” explained Barbara Fischer, Director and Chief Curator of the University of Toronto Art Centre and Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at Hart House.

The sculpture is intended to be “a constant reminder of Dr. Bethune’s legacy,” said Whiteside.

On Saturday May 31, the Faculty will host a gala in Bethune’s honour, which will be co-hosted by radio host and musician Holly Cheng and Breakfast Television personality Kevin Frankish. Held at the Four Seasons Hotel, the gala will feature a Chinese-Canadian fusion inspired dinner menu, award winning entertainment and remarks from Norman Bethune Gala Honorary Chair and former Governor-General of Canada, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson.

“Planning for this event has been led by our volunteer chairman, Justin Poy, and a dedicated team of volunteers. And we are also very honoured to enjoy the patronage of The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, former Governor General of Canada,” said Whiteside.

“You’ll be awed by the performers,” said Poy, who promised an entertaining evening.

A 1916 graduate of the Faculty of Medicine, Bethune is well-known for his dedication to public health and his work as a war-time surgeon in Spain and China. In 1939, Bethune cut his finger while operating on a soldier in China. The injury led to blood poisoning, and he died on November 12. He has since become an example of selfless commitment to the advancement of humanitarian causes.

Information on the Bethune Gala can be found at www.bethunegala.com.

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