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Genowefa KUZIA

Genowefa Kuzia (nee Borowiec) was born in Nowy Michalin, eastern Poland (now Belarus) on June 27, 1925. She was just 14 years old when the Second World War began with the Nazi invasion of Poland. The eastern territories of Poland were quickly occupied by communist forces of the USSR, and in February 1940 she and her family were deported in freight train cars to a forestry work camp near Arkhangelsk.


Although many died, she survived the horrific conditions until ‘amnesty’ was signed in July 1941 between Poland and the USSR, leading to the release of many Poles who had been imprisoned and forced into labour camps. The family made their way through Kuybyshev, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, to reach the Polish army that was being formed in the southern USSR. They evacuated to Persia (now Iran) with the army, and were sent to Karachi, India, in November 1942. This distance of more than 10,000 km took more than one year to cover. In May 1943 they sailed to the Polish refugee camp of Santa Rosa in Mexico.


Genowefa completed her high school education, as well as bookkeeping and dental hygiene diplomas in the camp and in 1947, moved to Leon Guanajuato where she worked as a cashier at the bus depot.


In 1948, she and her family were sponsored by her aunt Janina Zwierciadlowska to Stonewall, Manitoba and they later moved to Winnipeg to find work. Through her aunt, she met Waclaw Kuzia, who had worked at the Zwierciadlowski farm the previous year as part of his Canadian resettlement contract. They married in July 1949, and Genowefa worked in the garment industry until the birth of her first child.


Genowefa served on the Executive of the Polish Combatants Association Branch #13 in several capacities over the years, as well as the Ladies' Auxiliary, receiving bronze, silver and gold pins of recognition. She belonged to the Catholic Women's League at St. Andrew Bobola Parish, served as delegate and Executive member to the Canadian Polish Congress Manitoba Division, was a member of the Polish Canadian Women's Federation Branch #7, and was one of the founders of the Ogniwo Polish Museum, where she served as Director and Executive member until 2009.


Genowefa passed away in Winnipeg on October 27, 2019, at the age of 94 years.

Copyright: Kuzia family

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