The Honourable Janice Filmon, C.M., O.M.
Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba
Polish Fraternal Aid Society Hall, 770 Mountain Avenue
Saturday, October 21, 2017 – 6:00 p.m.
Friends, Manitobans, builders and nurturers of community, friends and members of the Polish Fraternal Aid Society of St. John Cantius, thank you for the opportunity to join you in celebrating a century of co-operation, dedication and philanthropy.
We are gathered here on Treaty One territory, on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe and the homeland of the Métis people.
Tonight we are celebrating an organization and the people who built and supported it. In the process we will be telling a wonderful true story about this community and about this country we call home.
A century ago, some 300 members of the Polish community came together to create a society dedicated to mutual support.
They were members of the first generation of new Canadians who had arrived in a small, growing city at the forks of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers during that city’s early boomtown years.
They had worked hard to find a place in a new society and to create a unique, multilingual and multicultural community in Winnipeg’s North End, along with other members of Manitoba’s wave of immigrants.
They had worked together and helped one another to find work and homes and to learn a new language. And they knew that co-operation and community spirit were the keys not just to survival but to success and happiness.
In the decades to come, this fraternal aid society would help members of the community endure personal setbacks and family tragedies. They would support one another through the Great Depression and the Second World War.
As Canada developed a more comprehensive social safety net, they would broaden their focus and support scholarships and bursaries and cultural organizations.
They would make this building into a vibrant part of community life, a place that would one day hold a special place in the memory of the North End boy with big dreams.
This year, as we have been commemorating the 150th anniversary of Confederation, we’ve had many opportunities to reflect on the building of the Canada we know today.
Community organizations like the Polish Fraternal Aid Society of St. John Cantius – by bringing people together to create hope, build prosperity and nurture learning and culture – have played an important part in creating the country we love today.
To all who have been part of this story, I offer thanks for your service to your community, to our community and to Canada.
Thank you. Merci. Meegwich.