An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by the gods. Some stories believe you are granted happiness and eternal good luck, instead of just one wish, such as long life or recovery from illness or injury. This makes them popular gifts for special friends and family. The crane in Japan is one of the mystical or holy creatures (others include the dragon and the tortoise) and is said to live for a thousand years: That is why 1000 cranes are made, one for each year. The crane in flight symbolizes the Northern Cancer Foundation’s unwavering commitment to supporting cancer research and programs. The geometric shapes reflect the characteristics of a paper-folded (origami) crane.
While many types of cancer have their own specific colour or combination of colours, purple is the colour of all cancers and it was important to us to have purple be the focal colour of the logo. The colour scheme incorporates a bright, energized palette to reflect the NCF’s vitality, care and compassion.
The lowercase setting of the typography promotes and informal and approachable personality to the logo, and it also reflects our approach to fundraising.
My mom was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in the late fall of 2001. She was a radiation oncologist at the time, and because of her profession, but also her personality, I always wondered if she was directing her care, or if it was her friend and colleague who managed it for her. She was a compassionate person, filled with love, empathy and a sense of humour.
Early on through her extensive treatments, a friend of hers, also an oncologist, came from Victoria to visit. She told our family the tale of the Japanese crane and the meaning behind it. The Japanese crane is said to symbolize the ‘bird of happiness’. It was believed that if one would fold 1000 origami cranes, one’s wish would come true. “Sadako and the thousand paper cranes” (Eleanor Coerr, 1977), infamously tells the story of a young Japanese girl, who after having exposure to the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, develops leukemia. She was inspired by the legendary Japanese cranes, and begins to fold them, hoping to have her wish to live, granted.
The story of these origami cranes suited my mom well. Those who knew my mother could tell you this. One, she was a ‘birder’ – meaning she had both binoculars and a bird book ready at all times in case she spotted something new and needed to learn everything about this bird. And, second, she strongly believed that nobody should be, what in Polish, is called “pusty wozek “. In English, this would translate to not pushing an empty cart, or in her case, no empty hands.
Once my mother knew about these thousand Japanese cranes, we were quickly made to have both origami folding instructions and origami paper available for use at all times. Any dinner guest, friend dropping by for coffee or visit of any sort – guests were given origami paper and instructions were reviewed. No, empty hands.
I’m not sure how many paper cranes we folded in my mom’s presence. In reflection, I’m not even sure if it was about the birds, or if it was about the gift of time with friends and family that she wanted most out of those paper birds. Before she passed in 2003, our family had a mobile of hundreds of cranes strung up for her to admire at all times. Hope – maybe. Love – certainly. Memories …always.
– Ewa Ceccon