Draft-dodger memorial to be built in B.C.

B.C. activists to erect sculpture honouring draft dodgers, four decades after Americans opposed to the Vietnam flooded into Canada.

B.C. activists plan to erect a bronze sculpture honouring draft dodgers, four decades after Americans opposed to the Vietnam War sought refuge in Canada.

The memorial, created by artists in Nelson, B.C., ties into a two-day celebration planned for July 2006 that pays tribute to as many as 125,000 Americans who fled to Canada between 1964 and 1977.

"This will mark the courageous legacy of Vietnam War resisters and the Canadians who helped them resettle in this country during that tumultuous era," Isaac Romano, the director of the Our Way Home festival told a news conference in Nelson Tuesday.

The event will honour people who came to Canada and resisted war efforts, from burning their draft cards during the Vietnam War to leaving the army to protest the war in Iraq, Romano said.

Musicians – many of who participated in the anti-war movement – will play at the festival, scheduled for July 8-9, 2006. Historians and critics of U.S. foreign policy will speak and a documentary about American war resisters by director Michelle Mason will be screened.

Estimates of the number of Americans who came to Canada because they opposed the Vietnam War range from 50,000 to 125,000.

They sought refuge in Canada between 1964 and 1977 in one of the biggest political exoduses in U.S. history.

The first wave of Vietnam era immigrants, called "draft dodgers," was largely middle class and educated.

Deserters from the army came later, mostly with little education or money.

Many of the war resisters settled in British Columbia, especially in the Gulf Islands, the Sunshine Coast and the West Kootenay, the B.C. Interior region where Nelson is located.

Thousands returned south after President Jimmy Carter granted them amnesty in 1977, but the 1986 census indicated that half stayed in Canada.