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Last Updated: Monday, 23 July 2007, 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK
Memorial statue marks clearances
Statue at Helmsdale commissioned by Clearances Centre Ltd
The statue commemorates people who were cleared from the area
A memorial statue to those affected by the Highland clearances has been officially unveiled.

First Minister Alex Salmond attended a ceremony to remember the clearances in Helmsdale, on the Sutherland coast.

The 10ft-high bronze "Exiles" statue commemorates the people who were cleared from the area by landowners and left to begin new lives overseas.

Canadian mining millionaire Dennis Macleod, who was behind the scheme, also attended the ceremony.

The statue, which depicts a family leaving their home, stands at the mouth of the Strath of Kildonan and was created by Black Isle sculptor Gerald Laing.

Mr Salmond said: "This statue is not only a reminder of the Highland clearances, but a great example of the skill and vision of those who remain.

It's my personal ambition to have the same statue erected in all of the areas where the Highlanders settled
Dennis Macleod

"This statue is a reminder of the men, women and children who left Scotland and took their skills, their strength and their stories across the seas and shared them around the world.

"While we deplore the clearances we can be proud of the contributions that those cleared have made to humanity."

The original plan for a commemoration by a group of campaigners was to obtain permission to knock down a controversial statue of the laird involved in the clearances, the Duke of Sutherland, which towers over the town of Golspie.

Modern city

Although this never happened, they got together with Mr Macleod, who was born in the much-cleared Strath of Kildonan.

He set up a Clearances Centre which commissioned the statue now in place.

An identical one has also been set up on the banks of the Red River near Winnipeg - the modern city founded by those who left Scotland for Canada.

Mr Macleod told BBC Scotland: "It's my personal ambition to have the same statue erected in all of the areas where the Highlanders settled.

"We now have two and I can see five or six eventually, in places like Canada, the States and Australia."


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SEE ALSO
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17 Jul 07 |  Highlands and Islands
The story of the Vatersay raiders
07 Jun 07 |  Highlands and Islands
Lecture on 'forgotten' clearances
28 Sep 06 |  Highlands and Islands
Scotland's forgotten clearances
16 May 03 |  Scotland

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