Honouring the MacPaps

– Circulated on behalf of Erased by History – 

“Canada didn’t understand at first what you were doing, but understands now, and as time goes on, you will have more friends, more honour, because you have done one of the most gallant things done in history” ~ Reverend Salem Bland Toronto Union station greeting returning International Brigades

Over fifteen hundred Canadian volunteers fought against fascism in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) yet their story is little known.  At Remembrance Day ceremonies around the country it’s rare to hear mention of this forgotten group – the Canadian volunteers of the International Brigades, collectively known as the Mackenzie -Papineau Battalion or MacPaps.

This Remembrance Day, a special tribute is being organized to honour the MacPaps. The organizers are hoping that district councils, locals and individual volunteers can visit a Mac-Pap volunteer’s grave and pay tribute by placing a white rose/flower and international flag at it. Last year, more than forty volunteers across Canada visited over seventy MacPap graves.

Most of the MacPaps were at their core labour activists.  They were organizers of many locals and participants in Canada’s 1930’s labour protests and strikes, including relief camps strikes, the Ballantyne Pier Riot and the On to Ottawa trek.  Most were lifelong social justice activists in their communities. Many of these individuals are in unmarked graves with little evidence of the sacrifices they made to support democracy in Spain and improve working conditions in Canada.

If you are interested in joining other district councils, locals and individuals in paying tribute to the MacPaps this November 11th, please email:

In Solidarity,

Pamela Vivian, CUPE 2081 and grandniece of Peter Johnson, a member of the International Brigades from North Vancouver

Ray Hoff, son of Mackenzie-Papineau and Lincoln-Washington Veteran Harold Hoff


Facebook event:


Vancouver and District Labour Council