Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAY.com

GRAVENHURST — Norman Bethune would be amused if not bemused.

The good doctor’s statue is the latest effigy embroiled in a social unmasking of the world.

Never one fearful from expressing his personal, political and professional beliefs, the Gravenhurst native and surgeon revered in China is at the heart of COVID-19 controversy.

His statue in the town’s Heritage Square has been defaced.

A loose-knit group of people opposed to wearing masks to fight the coronavirus has been taking their stance to the streets.

One of them climbed his imposing eight-foot bronze likeness at the Opera House and stretched a mask around his head, ears and face.

No mere blue surgical mask, but one with a message.

“*Attention. Our Government is Lying to Us.*”

It’s the group’s belief that masks aren’t necessary and are an infringement on their rights.

Attempts to find them were unsuccessful. They have had some presence on social media.

Saturday police were reportedly at the Walmart in Bracebridge where they gathered to express their dissent for the provincial and local health unit advisory that calls for masks to be worn inside stores and when gathering in public — which not everyone does.

The protest comes as a surprise in that no one has done the same in a positive manner with a mask.

Bethune died operating on a Chinese soldier after cutting his finger and is a martyr in the country where the virus was first widely reported.

His home — “Birthplace of a Hero — in Gravenhurst is Canadian National Historic site visited by thousand of Chinese tourists each year.

It’s grounds are currently open, but the home and museum are closed to the public.

A main thoroughfare in town — Behune Drive — is named in honour of him.

Bethune’s face was seen covered with a protest mask Monday, July 27.
A statue of Dr. Norman Bethune in Heritage Square drew puzzled looks this week from passersby. (A previous cutline misidentified the woman.)

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