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B.C. draft-dodger monument in limbo
Last Updated Tue, 28 Sep 2004 14:46:02 EDT
NELSON, B.C. - The mayor of a B.C. city says plans to erect a monument honouring American draft dodgers have been scrapped, but the leader of the group funding the monument says it will find another place to put it.
Isaac Romano and his group, called Our Way Home, had been planning to erect the monument in Nelson, B.C., during a July 2006 two-day festival in honour of U.S. conscientious objectors.
Roughly 125,000 Americans crossed the border into Canada during the 1960s and 1970s because of their opposition to the Vietnam War. Many settled in the Nelson area.
The planned statue depicts two Canadians reaching out to help a U.S. draft dodger.
The plan got the attention of FOX-TV News in the U.S. and has come under fire from Americans, veterans groups and some Canadian politicians.
On Monday night, Blair Suffredine, Liberal member for the provincial riding of Nelson, and Jim Gouk, Tory MP for federal B.C. riding of Southern Interior, both said they opposed the monument, calling it inappropriate and offensive to many Americans.
Jerry Newberry, with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the oldest veterans' advocacy group in the U.S., said his organization was shocked by the idea.
"We're astounded and saddened and appalled...to think that someone would build a memorial and pay tribute to a group of people who saw fit to cut and run," said Newberry.
As a result of the criticism, the city of Nelson, afraid of alienating U.S. tourists, has distanced itself from the proposal.
On Tuesday, Nelson Mayor Dave Elliot said Romano had agreed to axe the monument, but go ahead with the festival.
"He has agreed that he will withdraw the memorial," Elliott said.
However, Romano said he only agreed to find another place to erect the monument.
"The Our Way Home National Reunion organizing group will be looking broadly for the appropriate setting for the peace monument. It may or may not be located in Nelson," said Romano in a statement.
Written by CBC News Online staff