McKenna is best known for The Valor and the Horror, a three-part series exploring Canadian involvement in three battles during World War II.

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Brian McKenna, a Montreal-based documentary filmmaker best known for his award-winning films about Canadian history and Canada’s role in wars, and founding producer of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s investigative series The Fifth Estate, has been described by his family as “passionate” about keep memory. an “incredible role model” and “someone willing to ask tough questions about our country’s history,” according to a CBC obituary.

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McKenna died Friday; his family said he suffered a brief illness. He was 77.

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Her father “lived an extraordinary life and inspired me to the end with his passion, spirit and humor, love of family and life,” wrote McKenna’s daughter Robin, also a filmmaker, in a social media post on Saturday.

“I was his firstborn and he would take me to his film shoots, to the bar with his friends to hear their stories and take it all in.”

“He finally left yesterday afternoon. Last night, after an epic full moon, the Aurora Borealis appeared in the sky over Montreal in an incredible way… like I’ve never seen in my life!

“His light burned so brightly. The world will not be the same without him,” she wrote in a Facebook post.

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“He was a great father,” his son Conor McKenna, host of The Morning Show on TSN 690, told CBC.

“It’s filled me with huge footsteps that I certainly don’t think I could ever start with. But a lot to achieve, a lot to achieve, both as a father and as a professional.”

McKenna’s interest in journalism began early: he was the sports editor of his school newspaper at St. Thomas High School in Pointe-Claire, and when he entered Loyola College he joined the school’s weekly newspaper, the Loyola News. He was a reporter, editor, and later news editor, becoming editor-in-chief in 1966.

After earning a Bachelor of Arts in English literature in 1967, McKenna was hired by the Montreal Star as a summer reporter to cover Expo 67. He returned to Loyola and the Loyola News that fall, and after graduating in communications arts in 1968 became a full-time reporter for the Montreal Star. From 1969 to 1971 he was the newspaper’s parliamentary correspondent in Ottawa.

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McKenna left the star in 1973 and became story editor for The City at 6, the local CBC television news and current affairs show in Montreal. He also became the Quebec correspondent for CBC’s national radio show As It Happens. In 1975 he was a founding producer of The Fifth Estate, an investigative news magazine that went on to win numerous awards.

He stayed with the show until 1988, but from 1972 he was producing films independently, often collaborating with his brother Terence, who was also a filmmaker.

His contributions to print journalism continued with articles in Saturday Night, Weekend Magazine, the Literary Review of Canada, Cité Libre, the Toronto Star and Maclean’s. In 1980, he co-authored a biography of former Montreal Mayor Jean Drapeau with Susan Purcell, his first wife.

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McKenna is best known for The Valor and the Horror, a three-part series exploring Canadian involvement in three battles during World War II; it was written with his brother Terence; he directed it. The series received Gemini Awards for Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Documentary Series in 1993 – and the French version received similar awards at the Prix Gémeaux.

The Valor and the Horror was also the subject of controversy when Canadian veterans’ groups and some prominent historians attacked it for allegedly presenting an inaccurate portrait of Canadian military actions, and this led to a Senate investigation, a CRTC hearing and a report by a CBC ombudsman.

The Great War, which first aired on CBC in 2006, told the story of 150 direct descendants of Canadian World War I soldiers: each had to bring a family artifact to an audition and tell the story behind it. The stories and artifacts become part of the script and “provide a more complete picture of how the Great War impacted the lives of Canadian families,” and in 2007 McKenna won the Governor-General’s History Award for Popular Media, also known as the Pierre Berton Prize. He was praised for his “extraordinary ability to address the challenges of conveying history through modern media with originality, determination, and a deep respect for those whose stories he tells.”

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His films include Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Memoirs, broadcast in English and French and winner of the 1994 Prix Gémeaux for Best Documentary Series; The Hooded Men, a documentary for The Fifth Estate about torture;

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A Journey Back (1987), McKenna’s documentary for The Fifth Estate about the Holocaust – and the film he said he was proudest of; Korea: The Unfinished War (2003); Big Sugar (2005) who studied the sugar industry, sugar cartels, slaves in the Dominican Republic’s fields, and slaves to the sugar-based diet.

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McKenna is survived by his partner Renée Baert; of children Robin, Katie, Conor and their mother Susan Purcell; Emma and Tess and their mother Anne Lagace Dowson; grandchildren Leo, Aedan and Dylan; Siblings William, Joan, John and Terence and his lifelong friend Stephen Phizicky.

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