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Oral Histories of Children of Post-World War II Polish Immigrants

On Friday, January 25, 2008 Magdalena Blackmore presented the highlights of her project, titled “Oral Histories of Children of Post-War Polish Immigrants”, at the “Ogniwo” Polish Museum, 1417 Main St. This work represents part of her post graduate research studies in the Masters programme of the Department of History at the University of Winnipeg. Her involvement with local Polish Radio and CZAS – Polish Press Ltd stirred her interest to explore the broad spectrum of the Polish immigrant experience within the community at large. In this the first phase of the research utilizing the qualitative study approach, eleven individuals were interviewed with the objective to formulate answers to the following questions: How have the children of post war immigrants defined themselves? What does it mean to be Polish and Canadian? Do they see themselves as hyphenated? If so, does one element take precedence over the other? How do children of immigrant families integrate their ancestral heritage within the Canadian reality?

This initial phase of research attempted to understand and express the issue of identity for this generation of Polish immigrants. Several Ogniwo museum members were an invaluable support and resource for this project. The project itself had the backing of the “Ogniwo” Polish Museum and grant funding from the Department of Culture, Heritage and Tourism, Government of Canada.

Magda Blackmore reports the findings of her research

After the formal slide presentation, highlighted by archival photos from the families of the project interviewees, there was a lively question and answer period with the audience. The audience learned that this research author, Ms Blackmore, is planning to continue the research project with follow up interviews with the study subjects and perhaps continue their story by talking to their children many of whom the author meets at the university.

Magdalena Blackmore is a sessional instructor of Polish language in the Department of German and Slavic Studies at the University of Manitoba. She is pursuing her Masters degree in History at the University of Winnipeg.

Christine Tabbernor, President of “Ogniwo” Polish Museum, introduced Ms Blackmore and thanked her after the presentation. As an important footnote it should be noted that Ms Tabbernor expressed the excitement and enthusiasm that has arisen within the Museum organization as a result of some of the new initiatives undertaken that give the Museum a new direction for the present and future. She invited the attendees to consider getting personally involved with the Museum's activities. Financial support is always welcome; the Museum has a charitable income tax number for donations.

The evening concluded with wine & cheese, which allowed all in attendance to meet and personally discuss the topic with the author, as well as share family and personal memories with their friends.

Enjoying wine, cheese and great conversation

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