On April 10, at 10:56 a.m. Moscow time, a twenty-year-old plane crashed just outside Smolensk, Russia, killing Polish president Lech Kaczynski. While the often controversial president’s death was a tremendous loss to Poland, it was far from the only one. Also among those killed were four undersecretaries of state (Mariusz Handzlik, Andrzej Kremer, Tomasz Merta, and Jerzy Stanislaw Komorowski); the president of the national bank, Sławomir Skrzypek; six of the seven highest ranking military commanders; approximately twenty senators and members of legislature; nine bodyguards; nearly a dozen religious figures; and dozens more government staff and community leaders. Eighty-nine passengers and seven crew died in all.
Poland is still reeling from the tragic news, and so is the Polish community in Toronto (which numbers roughly two hundred thousand, according to the 2006 census). Members of that community came together on Sunday in the Roncesvalles neighbourhood many of them call home, to pay tribute to those who were killed and take solace in mourning their nation’s losses together. The first major gathering of the day came with High Mass held at St. Casimir’s Church; later on a memorial service was held at the Katyn Memorial at the foot of Roncesvalles. Torontoist photographers—Christopher Drost and Nick Kozak, respectively—attended these events; their images capture the community’s grief far better than words ever could.