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Canadian vets of the Spanish Civil War get Ottawa monument

The Story

The Canadians who went to Spain to fight fascism in 1936 were branded as communists and broke the law by participating in the Spanish Civil War. But 65 years later, the veterans finally get official recognition by the Canadian government in the form of a monument in Ottawa. In this 2001 CBC television news report, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson is present for the dedication, as are a few of the merely dozen or so remaining members of the International Brigade.

Broadcast Medium: Television
Program: Saturday Report
Broadcast Date: Oct. 20, 2001
Host: Ben Chin
Reporter: Steve Fischer
Guests: Maurice Constant, Adrienne Clarkson, Arne Knudsen

Did You know?

• Created by Sudbury artist Oryst Sawchuk, the monument dedicated in this clip is called the Mackenzie-Papineau Monument. Its 52 panels list the names of the 1,546 Canadian volunteers who served to help the Spanish Republic fight Franco's fascists. It depicts the mythological Prometheus with his hand raised to the sun and is located on Green Island opposite Rideau Falls on the Rideau River.

• The Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion, which took its name from the two leaders of the Canadian Rebellions of 1837, joined the International Brigade, which was formed by battalions from approximately 50 countries to fight in Spain. Some Canadians were also members of the U.S. Abraham Lincoln Battalion. The brigades began arriving in October 1936. In all, approximately 60,000 men and women fought in the International Brigades.  The Mac-Paps, as they were known, withdrew in September 1938, their numbers considerably diminished. Fewer than 50 of the approximately 1,300 who went to fight are reported to have survived.

• The best-known Canadian member of the Mac-Paps was Norman Bethune, who is renowned for pioneering the first mobile blood transfusion unit on the war front in Spain.


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