What does it mean to be exiled? For the landmarks of your past to disappear?
In 1943, Wanda Gizmunt was ripped from her family home in Poland and deported to a forced labour camp in Nazi Germany. At the end of the war, she became one of millions of displaced Europeans awaiting resettlement.
Unwilling to return to then-Soviet-occupied Poland, Wanda became one of 100 young Polish women brought to Canada in 1947 to address a labour shortage at a Quebec textile mill. But rather than arriving to long-awaited freedom, the women found themselves captives to their Canadian employer. Their treatment eventually became a national controversy, prompting scrutiny of Canada’s utilitarian immigration policy.
Wanda seized the opportunity to leave the mill in the midst of a strike in 1948. She never looked back, but she remained silent about her wartime experience. Only after her death did her daughter-in-law assemble the pieces of Wanda’s life in Poland, Nazi Germany, and finally, Canada. In this masterful account of a hidden episode of history, Faubert chronicles the tragedy of exile and the meaning of silence for those whose traumas were never fully recognized.