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Mrs. Blanche Macdonald

Black and white portrait of Mrs. Blanche Macdonald (née Brillon).

Blanche Macdonald (née Brillon) (11 May 1931 - 8 June 1985) was a Canadian Métis born in Faust, Alberta of French and First Nations heritage. She launched her career as the winner of Miss English Bay in 1949 before becoming involved in the support of the rights and culture of Aboriginal peoples as well as numerous women's organizations. Blanche was a model, entrepreneur and native rights activist. In 1957 Blanche married John Dickson Macdonald and they had two children: daughter Alexis Seto (née Macdonald) and son Allan Macdonald.

Blanche developed the Blanche Macdonald Institute, a modeling agency and school of fashion in Vancouver, BC. Her career and self-development programs were founded on the philosophy of encouraging people to aspire to their highest potential through personal development. After her death in 1985, the institute was purchased by Lillian Lim who further developed the school and eventually renamed the institute the Blanche Macdonald Centre in the late 90's. Today, Blanche Macdonald Centre is a private college that provide careers in fashion, hairstyling, aesthetics/spa and nail. The college has two campuses, the original campus is located in City Square Mall and the other on Robson Street both in the city of Vancouver.

Ron Appleton

Oral History Interview with Ronald (Ron) Appleton, accompanied by his wife Brenda Appleton for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Carol Herbert. Ron Appleton was born in Vancouver and describes his youth working with his father who was an auctioneer and arts dealer. This experience introduced him to Inuit art which became the focus of his life’s work showing and selling works of Indigenous artists in his family-owned and operated galleries. Ron and Brenda describe the relationships they formed with Indigenous artists but also many art collectors, especially Jewish diaspora, around the world. Ron shares anecdotes related to prominent Canadian artists, as well as unique art pieces he’s seen across the decades in the business.

Historical notes

Historical notes on the Jewish population in Greater Vancouver.

Sima Elizabeth Shefrin

Oral History Interview with Sima Elizabeth Shefrin for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Brynn Gillies. Shefrin was born in Ottawa in 1949. . She is married to Bob Bossin, a Canadian folk musician, and they live together on Gabriola Island. She spent her youth part-time in Italy, surrounded by family fabric-workers and tailors. She describes how this informed her enthusiasm for fabric as a medium, and how she aims to convey stories through sewn projects. The name of Shefrin’s studio as well as her website is Stitching for Social Change, which she explains how she does fabric arts while integrating folk art tradition with activism, including feminism, anti-war sentiments, and reclamation of her Jewish heritage. Most notably, Shefrin tells the story of the Middle East Peace Quilt which aimed to discuss what peace would look like between Israel and Palestine with participants sending her quilt squares with their visions of peace from around the world. Shefrin also shares her exploration of comic and illustrative arts working on Jewish themed children's books and comics about her own life, including her husband's cancer diagnosis and life over the Covid pandemic.

Sylvia Gurstein

Oral history interview with Sylvia Gurstein who was born in Winnipeg in 1923, who spent her life as a social worker. Sylvia was instrumental in creating L’Chaim Day Care program and is a member of the National Council of Jewish Women, Hadassah, the Jewish Community Centre and the Population Health Advisory for Seniors for the Vancouver-Richmond Health Board.

Jean Gerber fonds

  • CA JMABC A.2023.001
  • Fundos
  • 1981 - 2010

The fonds consist of Jean Gerber’s research and writing while she was living and working in Vancouver. These include census analyses, demographic reports and articles relating to the Jewish community in Greater Vancouver, a draft, executive summary and final paper on issues affecting the Jewish community, historical notes, a study for Vancouver Talmud Torah School, a Jewish seniors housing survey, a paper on Hebrew School registrations, a needs assessment for the Jewish community in Greater Victoria, and a report on isolation and interdependence in seniors. The fonds also consist of a paper written about the Jewish family in Vancouver by Jim L. Torczyner and Ann L. Chatwin.

Marcia Pitch

Oral Interview with Marcia Pitch for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Carol Herbert. Marcia discusses her upbringing in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and her parents and grandparents’ origins in Eastern Europe and immigration to Canada. Marcia mentions influences that led her to the arts, including education at the University of Manitoba and doing graduate work in California. In 1969, Marcia experienced the police suppression in response to the People’s Park Revolution in Berkeley. Soon after she returned to Vancouver where she studied education at UBC and volunteered with Amnesty International. She pursued an art style that reflected her strong feelings about politics, war, and the influences of her grandparents’ stories of Eastern European pogroms. Marcia's art includes mixed media collages and sculptures, and producing large scale installations for her gallery exhibitions. Marcia speaks about her upcoming project focusing on sexuality, women’s repression and feminism. She further explains her perspective as an older woman in the art world and the differing responses she has received regarding her art online vs. in person. Marcia relates experiences such as having children, volunteering, and being a part of the recycling community to how they’ve inspired her pieces or participation in the arts community.

Paper on the Jewish Family in Vancouver

Paper written by Jim L. Torczyner and Ann L. Chatwin. Examines the features of the Jewish family in Vancouver in comparison with the issues and dynamics presented within another paper, "The Jewish Family in Canada", by Jim L. Torczyner.

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