“As Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I extend my best wishes for a happy Independence Day weekend to Polish Canadians and people of Polish descent everywhere.
“Polish Independence Day commemorates the restoration of Poland’s independence at the end of the First World War in 1918 following 123 years of partitions by Austria-Hungary, Germany and Russia. This long-awaited and hard-won independence served to rally the Polish people in later years, as they struggled first against Nazi and Soviet tyranny and brutality during the Second World War, and then against Communist rule until the full restoration of independence as the Iron Curtain fell in 1989.
“Throughout more than a century of oppression and occupation, the Polish people fought proudly and bravely to maintain their culture, history and language within their homeland. The many facets of Polish history and culture have also been kept alive in the Diaspora in countries such as Canada.
“Since the first settlement was established more than 150 years ago, Polish Canadians have contributed significantly to shaping Canadian society and to supporting the cause of a free and independent Poland. Today, almost one million people of Polish heritage enrich our country with their skills, knowledge and talents, and our society benefits enormously.
“Every year, the celebration of Polish Independence Day coincides in Canada with Remembrance Day. As we reflect this Sunday on our own proud military history and the sacrifices of those who served – and continue to serve – our country, I encourage all Canadians to also take the opportunity to learn more about Polish heritage and history, and the risks and sacrifices borne by our Polish allies – in particular the Home Army – in their fight for freedom.”
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