USC Canada

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Sebastiana Montan
Sebastiana Montan is a small-scale farmer in Panacachi, Bolivia who works with USC Canada. (Photo: Kath Clark/USC Canada)

USC Canada is a non-profit, international development organization working to improve livelihoods by promoting agricultural biodiversity. The organization was founded in 1945 by Lotta Hitschmanova as the Unitarian Service Committee of Canada.

USC Canada’s mission is to promote sustainable living through strong rural communities with family farms and healthy ecosystems. The Canadian organization partners with programs in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to provide training and to promote self-sustaining communities that strengthen biodiversity, food sovereignty, and the human rights. As of 2017, the organization is run by a staff of approximately 30, most of whom are based in Ottawa, Canada.[1]

USC Canada's award-winning flagship program, Seeds of Survival[2] was featured in a National Geographic article in July, 2011.[3]

USC Canada also works to influence global food production policies and practices that nurture fertile landscapes, regenerating the water, soils and vegetation that seeds, plants, and animals depend on.


Lotta Hitschmanova founded the organization in 1945, receiving registered charity status on August 30 of that year.[4] She served as Executive Director for nearly 40 years, retiring in 1982. Throughout her career, her work took her to conflict zones and newly independent countries; wherever the need was greatest.

Through Public Service Announcements on television and radio, Hitschmanova became one of Canada’s most recognized humanitarians and public figures.[5] Her distinctive Czech accent as she pronounced USC Canada’s address, 56 Sparks Street, Ottawa became an unforgettable signature. She struck a special chord with Canadians and mobilized a whole generation to take action and help.

Present Day[edit]

Today, USC Canada works in 12 countries around the world, including Canada. The organization's mission is to "build food sovereignty by working with partners to enhance biodiversity, promote ecological food systems, and counter inequity."[6]

In 2013, USC Canada partnered with Seeds of Diversity Canada to start The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security. This initiative is building a movement for resilient seed systems across Canada. Working with farmers, seed producers, researchers, and partners from civil society, government and business, the program conserves and advances biodiversity, maintains public access to seed, delivers research and training programs on ecological seed production, and promotes the wisdom and knowledge of farmers.[7]


  1. ^ "USC Canada website, "Our Staff"". Retrieved 2017-06-21.
  2. ^ "Seeds of Survival". Retrieved 2018-09-11.
  3. ^ "National Geographic, July 2011 "Food Ark"". Retrieved 2011-06-15.
  4. ^ Clyde Sanger, Lotta, 1986, p43, Stoddart Publishing, Toronto, ISBN 0-7737-2072-3
  5. ^ "Canadian Personalities - Lotta Hitschmanova". Retrieved 2008-04-24.
  6. ^ "USC Canada - Our Approach". Retrieved 2018-09-11.
  7. ^ "The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security - About us". Retrieved 2018-09-11.

External links[edit]