Polish Combatants’ Association, Branch 2
London, Ontario, Canada
A Talk by Mr. Tadeusz Sokołowski on the anniversary of the battle of Monte Cassino presented in 1947 in London, Ontario, Canada
As of May 11, six months have passed since we saw the lights of Halifax in Canada, a land then unknown to us. We were slowly approaching yet one more country in the chain of countries we had passed through on our march with war, and I hope Canada is the end of our journey. The ship slowly approached the quay, and we were greeted by the sleepy peace and quiet of the port, so different from the hustle and bustle of the ports we met on the Mediterranean.
We were aware that we had come to a country that was different from the ones we had come to know, that different people lived here and that relations between them were guided by different customs. In the first place, we were interested in what would await us in Canada and how we would be received? We were glad that the turbulent Atlantic Ocean and an even more turbulent Europe were far behind us. We also knew that not knowing the English language or the customs of a country so far from our homeland, [that the transition would not be easy].
I remember my first conversation with a correspondent for the Free Press [a daily newspaper in London, Ontario] which was conducted through an interpreter in French. What a long time ago that seems. Now we have made great steps forward. We speak English, some better, some worse, but enough to be able to communicate with our councillors and we even attempt public speaking and I am sure that in a few months English will cease to be a problem for all of us.
Very often, in the first words of a conversation, we encountered the question “How do you like Canada?” We answered most often “I am very satisfied that I am coming to Canada.” And often in the eyes of the questioner you can see surprise, as if asking why you are so happy, maybe with the hard work, but after all, the new arrivals have not even seen a beautiful summer in Canada, yet we are happy that we are in Canada. Why? Because we are in a country where the law applies to both those who are governed and those who govern, and today it is not like that everywhere in the world. We are happy that we can live among people whose way of life and culture is the same as that in which we were raised, in which we grew up in and which we inherited from our ancestors.
Sometimes they ask us why we came to Canada and did not return to Poland? Most often, we give a short answer – Because the Russians now rule in Poland. This is too short an answer, there are deeper reasons for why we did not return to Poland.
The Russians brought with them another culture different from ours, which grew out of central Asia; a culture alien to people brought up on Christian principles, a culture that does not understand the concept of love of neighbour. In every country, the governments are at one time liberal, another conservative or socialist, but none of these governments tries to change the basic principles of life based on religion and culture, which is a gift from the many generations that came before us.
And now in Poland there have been such profound changes in the most fundamental forms of life under the influence of the new warden of Poland, that is [a few words are cut off here] who fought for many years in the name of freedom and respect for the law, that we did not want to change our ideals for which so many brave people died in the struggle for these ideals and that’s why we didn’t want to go back to Poland.
Canada is now our homeland, we want to live here, in the kind of life in which all its citizens live. We want to contribute, we want to work, and I am sure that Canadian society will open to, knowing our past and our willingness to abide by the laws and customs of this country.
source: archives of Polish Combatants’ Association, Branch 2, London, Ontario, Canada