Local Poles gather to mourn president - Metro US

Local Poles gather to mourn president

Hundreds of Polish Canadians gathered at St. Casimir’s Parish Church in East Vancouver yesterday to mourn the death of President Lech Kaczynski, who was killed in a plane crash on the weekend.

People lit candles and placed flowers on a growing memorial at the base of a giant crucifix on the church lawn.

Others knelt before a framed photo of the late president and his wife — who also died in the crash — and crossed themselves, wiping tears from eyes hidden behind sunglasses.

Kaczynski and dozens of political, military and religious leaders were among 96 people killed en route to Smolensk, Russia.

They were to participate in a ceremony honouring 22,000 Polish officers killed by the Soviet secret police in 1940.

Barbara Broda, who attended the memorial in Vancouver, said her husband woke her on Saturday with the news.

“I was devastated,” she said. “The Polish community is very united. It’s a very strong bond (we have) with Poland.”

Ewa Maslowski’s children were meant to be participating in a Polish dance event in Bellingham, Wash., yesterday.

She said it’s a “terrible coincidence” that Kaczynski died en route to a memorial event for murdered Poles.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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