People visit the birthplace of Norman Bethune in Gravenhurst, Ontario, Canada, Aug. 28, 2016. (Xinhua/Zou Zheng)
OTTAWA, June 8 (Xinhua) -- "I never really realized the enthusiasm and adulation that Chinese people hold for Norman Bethune," Cheri Bethune, a Canadian family doctor, said when she recalled her visit to China with a Canadian medical delegation in 1983.
The Chinese community in Toronto held an event in the biggest city of Canada on Friday to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Norman Bethune's death in China.
Some 200 people including Cheri attended the event, which was meant to carry forward the spirit of Norman Bethune for promoting world peace and strengthening China-Canada friendship.
Cheri is the grandniece of doctor Norman Bethune, a household name in China. He led a Canadian medical team to China in early 1938 to help the Chinese people fight Japanese invasion troops during World War II and sacrificed his life in November 1939.
Norman Bethune effectively brought modern medicine to China and treated a lot of sick villagers and wounded soldiers. His selfless commitment made a profound impression on the Chinese people, who hold events every year to memorize him.
Cheri went to China and stayed for a month in 1983 with a 100-member Canadian medical delegation. When Chinese locals got to know there was a relative of Norman Bethune in the Canadian delegation, a red carpet was spread to receive the delegation.
Most Canadians don't know anything about Norman Bethune. That's very sad, she said.
"Canada has not capitalized on that in order to rebuild those bridges that have recently been not only shattered but perhaps challenged," Cheri said in the interview with Xinhua.
"That's a very sad reflection of our perhaps tainted history or how our history has been modified or limited because Norman Bethune chose to be a communist at a time when the choice was either capitalism or communism," she said.
"I think there are lots to gain from returning to why Chinese see Canadians as being so friendly and good people to have alliances with and warm relationships with, and I think our present government needs to talk about that and revisit the Norman Bethune story," Cheri added.
Yan Li, a Chinese-Canadian professor in Canada's University of Waterloo, told Xinhua that the spirit of internationalism and humanism Norman Bethune represents does not actually belong to Canada alone, but to the spiritual wealth of mankind. "In times of global turmoil, we should greatly advocate the Bethune spirit."
"The spirit represented by Norman Bethune never dies. It inspires generations of people including in our time to think more about life," Li said.