Justice delayed is justice denied, and the veterans of Canada's
Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion have been denied justice for
60 years now by the Canadian government.
voluntered to fight fascism during the Spanish Civil War from
1936 - 1939 and were among the 50,000 volunteers from 53 different
countries who formed the legendary "International Brigades".
The Brigades came to the aid of the new democratic Spanish
republic against a military coup by General Franco.Nearly
1600 Canadian Mac Paps volunteered to fight Franco's fascists.
Many had been On to Ottawa Trekkers, most were labour or
student activists. Nearly half died in the Spanish struggle.
lie buried where they fell on the battlefields of Spain. They
Mac Paps enjoyed enormous popular support from the Canadian
people and fundraising for Spain was high on the agenda for
most progressive organizations and individuals.
to Ottawa trek leader Arthur 'Slim' Evans led the 1937 campaign
in B.C. to raise Medical Funds for the Mackenzie Papineau
Battalion. He was sent on a two month speaking tour by the
Communist Party which included 53 different localities. He
began in Vancouver on June 6 and ended in Prince Rupert on
July 26, speaking in a new place practically every night.
Four other On to Ottawa trek leaders - Paddy O'Neill, Tony
Martin, Peter Neilson and Red Walsh - volunteered to go to
Spain and fight. They had all been on the delegation that
met with Prime Minister R.B. Bennett. Neilson and O'Neill
were killed in Spain.
But while the Mac Paps enjoyed enormous popular support from
the Canadian people, the Canadian government did not honour
their sacrifice. In fact, upon their return from Spain, they
were treated more like criminals than heroes. In spite of
this, most volunteered for the Canadian forces when World
War II began, to continue the fight against fascism they had
begun in Spain.
after more than 60 years only about a dozen Mac Paps are still
alive in Canada, of the nearly 1600 that went to Spain. They
got some very belated satisfaction on October 20, 2001 when
Governor General Adrienne Clarkson helped dedicated a national
monument to the Mac Paps in Ottawa. The campaign for this
monument was led by the Association
of Veterans and Friends of the Mackenzie Papineau Battalion.
The monument was built entirely with donations from individuals
and organizations. The government of Canada did not contribute.