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A Look Back

Time 0:04:52


It was 2:00 a.m. Our family was rudely awakened by two Russian soldiers armed with rifles and were told to pack a few things, and we would return in a few days. We were all loaded into box cars, hundreds of us and travelled by train to Archangel, Siberia 2,000 km from home. The conditions were deplorable. If someone died, the soldiers would throw the bodies off the train.

I had a choice-- school or prison. Of course, I chose school, but that didn’t last long. Our language teacher said to us that “there is no God”. I was sooo mad that I stood up and said out loud “Yes there is or else we would not be alive today.” The Russians forced me back to work in the bush camps but I refused and was put into jail. Three days later, I was let out to tend to my siblings. Over the next six months, I spent more time in jail for stealing food from the government fields just so we could survive.

A year and half later, the Polish people that were sent to Siberia received amnesty. My father and brother registered with the polish army. This made my mother very happy because now they wouldn’t go hungry. Now it was just my mother, sister and myself. Once again, we were loaded into box cars and started heading south. Many people died from malnutrition, hunger, typhoid. There many stops along the way. By February 1942, we arrived in Tengaru, Tenganika Province - now Tanzania, where we lived for 5 ½ years. For the first time our emotions went from MAD, MAD to happy. These years were good.

Word came that my mother, sister and I would be travelling to England to meet up with our father and brother who were stationed with the Polish army. It had been six years since we saw them after leaving Siberia, and we were happy to be reunited. It was there that my sister and I met up with our future husbands.

My uncle was in the Soo since after WWI. He made the papers for us to come to Canada. We said our good-byes and sailed to Canada in the hopes of starting a new and better life. We sailed to Halifax on the “Aquatania, ” then travelled by train to Montreal, finally arriving in the Soo in early 1949. Finding work was very difficult because we didn’t speak English, but we eventually found jobs as housekeepers at a private home. We were able to sponsor our future husbands and when they arrived, we got married.

After a few years of struggling, finding work, learning the language and building a house, we had two girls and two boys. We had a good life together and to this day I thank God for our life. My husband passed away 10 years ago and people ask me “Aren’t you afraid of living alone in that big house?” My response is “read my story.”

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