Future of Polonia – Oskar Halecki Symposium speech

Chis M. Zawitkowski, PoloniaInstitute.net, Chairman of the Board of Directors, National Security Policy

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank dr. Jabłoński and the Halecki Institute for inviting me to the 2nd Oskar Halecki Symposium dealing with Polish Canadians’ Contribution to Canada: Commemorating Canada’s 150th Anniversary.

I came from distant California and I bring best wishes and greetings from the Polonia Institute, which I have the honor to lead as the Chairman of the Board of Directors. Additional advantage I take from the fact that I left Poland more than 40 years ago, coming to this country, to Canada. Here I found home, refuge, and political freedom. I got married, had children, born in Toronto and in Ottawa. I bought my first house here as well. I was met with friendship, compassion, and understanding here. I look around and I find familiar faces of people I know since the time I lived in this town. I thank you once again for inviting me to this prestigious event.

Not very far from this place I met with Mr. Korwin-Łopuszański and the others, when we established the Committee of Captive Nations. Here I was elected to the Executive Board of the Canadian Polish Congress to chair the Polish Agenda Commission.

When I came to Toronto I was welcomed by the former ex-combatants of Polish 1st Armored Division that landed on Juno Beach in Normandy as part of 1st Canadian Armored Army and fought so bravely in the victorious Battle of Normandy. I’ve been to Montormel, where Bretonians established a beautiful museum to commemorate, as they say, “those brave Poles”. As per a decision by general Bradley, general Maczek countersigned the unconditional capitulation of German 7th Panzer Army of feldmarshal von Kluge.

I was welcomed warmly by the Polish Canadians since my grandfather was also an ex-combatant of the 10th Armored Cavalry Brigade in the 1939 campaign, and 1st Grenadier Division in first French campaign, under the command of Stanisław Maczek. His comrades-in-arms wanted to have me involved with the many Polonia activities. Mr. Gertler and Mr. Kaszuba invited me to the Board of Directors of CPC (KPK). Monsignor Pluta, delegate to Canada of the Polish Government-in-Exile, asked me to help with organization and the first elections to the Polish National Assembly in Exile. I became the Vice Chairman of this political assembly.

After the 1980 strikes in Poland we created an enormous help effort, by sending literally thousands of containers of help to our brethren in Poland.

At this point I want to emphasize the fact that people that came from Poland as well as those born in Canada, or United Kingdom worked together. I recall Michael Wilson (Canadian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance) as an inspiration to establish Polish-Canadian Action Group. PCAG played a very important role in those troubled years. I remember dr. Marek Celinski, Andrew Piekarski, Les Prusinski and many others.

At the same time we maintained a close relationship with the US Polonia. Profesor Zbigniew Brzezinski inspired us to commemorate the invasion of Czechoslovakia (in August 1968), and we started the Black Ribbon Day, here in Ottawa. We maintained the links of communication with Pomost Group (Mr. Stejszczyk) and Polish American Congress (Łukomski, Mażewski).

It takes a team to make a dream. We understood that we must act together. This approach not only strengthened our organizations, but it also improved our relationship with Canadian politicians. We were consulted by the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition, ministers of government. We all contributed and participated in unveiling of the Katyń Monument in Toronto. This was the first monument in the world, first in a public place.

Participation in Polonia Jutra was also a very important occasion for all of us. We saw great value in the united efforts of all the members of Polish Diaspora spread throughout the Globe.

When Ronald Reagan became the US President and Jane Fonda demonstrated with thousands in front of Toronto city hall, we organized a counter demonstration, which brought a lot of media attention. Even Mr. Reagan commented on this issue.

Some of us joined the North American Study of Polish Affairs, lead by Professor Andrzej Ehrenkreutz of the University of Michigan. This phenomenal group published a number of analyses and papers on issues important for Poland.

As described now, Polonia, especially Canadian Polonia, contributed a lot to Poland and for our community in Canada. We were ready to share our experience and expertise with our brethren in Poland. Unfortunately in early 1990’s both the Polish National Assembly in Exile and North American Study were discontinued, dissolved.

In order to fulfill the gap, we created in California the Polish-American Foundation for Economic Research and Education (PAFERE) with a goal to promote the free market economy in Poland. We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to organize educational conferences in Poland, we brought speakers to Poland, we published many books in Poland. We even developed the educational materials and the books at different levels in order to help Poland, help Polish educators, students, entrepreneurs, and the economy in general. Eleven years ago we established our daughter–foundation, domiciled in Warsaw.

We still thought that the emptiness after cessation of the Study and the Assembly must be fulfilled. The former members of both distinguished organizations decided to establish a new entity, the Polonia Institute.

I invite you to visit our website, www.poloniainstitute.net. We are divided into subject groups. I happen to lead the National Security Policy group. Our decision to create the Institute was inspired by the actions of the Russian Federation against Ukraine. We knew that Poland may be next. Therefore, we convinced the Polish American Congress to adopt a resolution requiring immediate action to influence the US President to send troops to Poland. In October 2014 it became a reality, our resolution was hand delivered to the White House. We prepared several analyses on Russia’s war doctrine. These were well received as well. We participated in war games in Washington, and in 2016 Warsaw NATO Summit.

History is a teacher of life, as the Romans used to say – Historia Vitae Magistra Est. Yes, when we act together we accomplish a lot. We need to put aside our minor differences and act in the areas close to all of us. I have heard that you have created some youth organizations, like the mentioned Polish Canadian Young Professionals (have I said it right?). Like I was encouraged by the WWII veterans to join SPK and CPC, you must have them harbored into your traditional organizations as well.

The time is high to act together. The enormous importance of president Trump’s visit to Poland and the possible impact of his phenomenal speech must work for us. The Intermarium, as precisely defined this morning by dr. Chodakiewicz must become a reality. The Russian Federation is a threat to world peace, and the Russo-German grip is aiming against our Poland. The building of alliance between countries in the region defined by the Baltic, Adriatic, and Black seas is a simple necessity. It may become a stabilizer of peace and prosperity in Europe, torn by the waves of Muslim migrants.

All nations of the region are looking for Polish leadership, and we, Polonia, must take initiative to sustain the efforts of building broad support, push our governments, and educate our societies. As we did forty years ago, we need to establish multi ethnic support committees. Our politicians must heed our voices, our opinions.

Let us act together: it takes a team to make a dream!

Thank you!

Chis M. Zawitkowski

 



Categories: News, Outside of the USA, Polonia Today

1 reply

  1. This was a delight to read. I take my hat off to Chris. He’s a giant of a man. He deserves a lot of credit for his wonderful contributions to our people. Sto Lat to him/ bronek

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