News release

January 23, 2007

Video launch for “Heather Crowe’s Legacy”

Click on picture to watch the new video documentary about Heather Crowe

Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada is pleased to make available to the public a short film about the life and death of smoke-free activist Heather Crowe.

“Heather Crowe’s Legacy: An Ordinary Canadian’s Extraordinary Gift” is a 25 minute film produced by Ottawa-area filmmakers Judy Redpath and Richard Austin. Weaving together footage from Heather’s trips across Canada and interviews with Heather and her supporters, the documentary film makers show how this one remarkable individual galvanized political and public health efforts to protect workers from second hand smoke.

Heather Crowe was a non-smoking waitress in Ottawa who became ill with lung cancer in the spring-summer of 2002 as a result of a 40 year career in mostly smoke-filled restaurants. From the time of her diagnosis until her death four years later, Heather campaigned for changes to municipal, provincial and federal laws. Her successful claim for compensation benefits from the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and a Health Canada advertisement about her helped Canadians understand the serious health consequences of being exposed to second hand smoke.

“When Heather began her courageous campaign to transform attitudes and the law, very few workers were protected from second-hand smoke,” said Cynthia Callard, executive director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. “Her campaign strengthened public health initiatives across Canada, and today more than 80% of Canadians live in communities where the law requires that all restaurants, bars and workplaces are smoke-free.”

Heather Crowe’s Legacy captures the spirit and accomplishment of this brave private citizen who successfully struggled for others even while facing her own death. In telling the story of how Heather has helped to transform Canada, the film shows how Heather herself was transformed from a private to a public figure and what that meant to her.

 “Heather never lost herself to this campaign,” said Callard. “Despite being in the public eye during the most private of moments, Heather remained honest, determined and selfless.”

The film is designed for viewing in family settings as well as in classrooms or community meetings. By showing that with courage and determination, one ordinary person can make a difference; one person can change society for the better the film will be of interest to Canadians working on other pressing social issues.

 “We are very grateful to those who helped us finance this video,” said Callard. Funding for the film was provided by Health Canada, the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control and the Manitoba Medical Association.

The film can be viewed on the web-sites of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada (www.smoke-free.ca) and can be viewed or ordered from the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control (www.cctc.ca).

 “Heather’s campaign is not yet over,” said Callard. “There are several Canadian governments which have not yet improved their labour code or smoking laws to protect all workers from tobacco smoke in indoor workplaces, including the federal government and those in Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

Among those continuing Heather’s campaign are the Ottawa youth activist group, exposé, and a black ribbon campaign lead by Queen’s freshman, Danielle Mignault. The Heather Crowe Legacy Foundation, administered by the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control, provides a way for other Canadians to support this ongoing work.

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"For further information, contact Cynthia Callard  1 613 233 4878