`We need to be together in this hard time’ – Edmonton’s close-knit Polish community gathers to mourn plane crash victims.
Hundreds of mourners surrounded the front steps of Edmonton’s Polish Hall Sun-day evening, praying and singing hymns to remember Poland’s president Lech Kaczynski and 96 others who perished in a weekend plane crash. Holding candles, flowers and flags of red and white — Poland’s national colours —they huddled against the cold for a moment of silence around a makeshift memorial on the front steps. Mourners placed red and white roses and votive candles around framed photographs of Kaczynski and his wife, Maria, who also died in the crash.
“I feel devastated,” said Dorota Kus, who lit eight votive candles at the base of a metal torch monument on the grounds nearby. It eased the pain to mourn with others at the candlelight vigil, she said. “We can feel together and grieve together and it helps in healing.” Clutching a Polish soccer scarf, Ted Dunaj said it was important for Edmonton’s Polish community to gather. “We all need to be together in this hard time. It’s even to show the Polish nation that everyone’s supporting them and to show that we’re thinking of them,” Dunaj said. “We have to come together before we can really start healing as a community,” said Robert Opara, vice-president of the University of Alberta Poiski Klub, which organized the candlelight vigil. Opara, a first-generation Canadian whose parents came to Canada about 20 years ago, said, “The Polish community here in Edmonton is very tight-knit and we’re very connected with our homeland Poland as well. All Polish people around the world have been affected by this.” Kaczynski died Saturday when his air-plane, carrying senior officials and VIPs, crashed in its attempt to land in fog near Smolensk in Russia. The delegation was en route to the Katyn forest glades to commemorate the 70th anniversary of a massacre of Polish prison-ers of war.
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