President Letters

As president of the Bethune Bai Qiuen Canadian Alliance (BBCA) I wish to extend greetings.

The BBCA is a not for profit organization registered Federally in Canada and locally in the Province of Manitoba. Through reading our website I hope you will better understand our activities.

We exist to promote friendship between the people of Canada and China by advancing the Norman Bethune legacy in health care and education. I would like to say a few words about what this means and how the BBCA tries to achieve this. Dr. Bethune is still regarded as a hero in China today 74 years after his death. In April 2013 we visited a very small village in Yunnan Province, in Southern China a few kilometers from the border with Vietnam. The primary school students proudly showed us their textbook with a drawing of Dr. Bethune treating the wounded those many years ago. They knew of him and they know Canada because of him. Norman Bethune provided invaluable aid to the Chinese people when he joined their struggle against the Japanese those many years ago. He was in China for less than two years. While there he established a process of modern medical care that saved the lives of thousands of soldiers. He would often work many hours without sleep to treat the wounded. He would even donate his own blood if no donors were suitable. The Chinese recognized that Norman Bethune was not just passing through to move on to other activities.  During those turbulent years he stayed and treated them until his body succumbed to an infection he acquired treating the wounded.

 Through Norman Bethune’s teaching and guidance the Chinese learned modern medical care. This knowledge is apparent now in the many medical facilities across China that have his name. I have visited some of these places and can attest that they practice medicine at the highest level. Dr. Bethune would be impressed.     

Today how do we try to extend Dr. Bethune’s work? As mentioned above I was visiting this small village in Yunnan Province. I was there to donate educational supplies to the local school and medicines to the local clinic. Our small group of doctors also did medical consultations on the local people.  Since 2007, our members have traveled to many such villages in China. We also visit county and provincial level facilities. On our trips we teach, we exchange knowledge and provide aid to some of the poorest regions.

A special project we have taken on is to help a young boy, Zhen Yi, born with spina bifida, a congenital defect leaving him crippled. Zhen Yi lives in a small village, Niuyangou, in Tang County, Hebei Province. This village was visited by Dr. Bethune many years age. Our work and interest in Zhen Yi has encouraged our close friends at the Bethune International Peace Hospital in Shijiazhuang, the Capital of Hebei Provence, to embark on a series of surgeries with the goal of making Zhen Yi walk. The officials of Tang County have supported the Zhen family throughout this. We have visited the local hospital there and have contributed medical equipment and educational support for the good of all the local people.

These encounters have been incredibly fruitful. We have made friends, provided needed aid and reinforced the actions of Dr. Bethune in a modern context.  Today the enemy is not the Japanese but rather it is poverty, disadvantage and a lack of access to modern care. We hope that our work provides this for those in need.

The purpose of this letter is to also make you aware of some of our plans for the future. We will be arranging a large group tour in the third quarter of 2014. This is to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Norman Bethune’s death on the battlefields of China. We are working with our friends in China to make this visit a great event. Special symposia, visits to the places Dr. Bethune worked and died are planned. Of course we also plan to teach, donate and treat the ill. In the second quarter of 2014 we will have banquets in Vancouver and Winnipeg in support of our plans.  

Best wishes to all our friends,


John Ducas, MD

President, Bethune Bai Qiuen Canadian Alliance