OTTAWA, May 14, 2015 /CNW/ - The Honourable Erin O'Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs, attended an event today at the Canadian War Museum hosted by the Embassy of the Republic of Poland to honour the National Day of Poland and to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe. The event featured a piano concert by renowned Polish pianist Marek Tomaszewski.
In his remarks, Minister O'Toole spoke about the terrible toll the Second World War had on the Polish people and highlighted the bravery of Polish service members who fought alongside Canadians and other Allies on all fronts to liberate Europe and defeat Nazi Germany. In recognition of their sacrifices, in 2009, our Government was proud to restore benefits to Polish and other Allied Veterans who had settled in Canada following the war.
Polish people helped to found and form Canada, with settlements dating back more than 150 years. More than 100,000 Polish immigrants came to call Canada home by the time the First World War began, and today Canada's 'Polonia' numbers nearly one million.
- May 8, 1945, officially marked the victory of the Allied forces over Germany and the end of the Second World War in Europe.
- Victory in Europe (V-E) Day is celebrated every year by the countries that took part in the Second World War.
- From 1939 to 1945, more than a million Canadians and Newfoundlanders served in the military; of that number, more than 45,000 died and 55,000 were wounded.
- Canadian and Polish service members worked side by side to help liberate the Netherlands.
- Allied Polish soldiers and airmen fought on all fronts of the war, including in the Battle of Britain, the Battle of Monte Cassino, and the Battle of Berlin.
"The Polish people are strong, courageous and principled who fought under the motto: "for our freedom and yours". Despite being under siege and forced into exile by Nazi German and Soviet occupation during the Second World War, Polish forces fought shoulder to shoulder with Canada and other Allies from the very beginning of the war, until its end 70 years ago. May they forever remain free. Lest we forget."
The Honourable Erin O'Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs
"When we look at Polish and Canadian Second World War Veterans, it is difficult to understand the immense struggle that they endured. We must say something that we can never say often enough: 'Thank you for your sacrifices, thank you for your leadership. Thank you for Polish-Canadian friendship. Thank you for a Europe whole and free. Thank you for a prosperous and democratic Poland'."
Marcin Bosacki, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Canada
SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada
For further information: Martin Magnan, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs, 613-996-4649; Media Relations, Veterans Affairs Canada, 613-992-7468