At the beginning of the millennium I came to live in Canada from France, where I was born and raised. Today, for the first time, I am attending the November 11 ceremonies outside of Europe. It is so different. The bilingualism, the national anthem and “God save the Queen” to mention a few, each nation has its own way of remembering. What stands out as different is commemorating outside conflict zones. Here in Canada war is more of an abstract notion. For five years my grandparents lived under the constant threat of bombs on a daily basis, this was not the case in Canada. The sounds of boots on the ground, the raids
and the deafening noise of buildings and bridges crumbling to the ground after a bomb hit them, none of that happened here.
My grandmother had her first child in 1943. She shared a room with a young Jewish woman who had given birth to a little girl as well. A stirring awoke my grandmother around midnight, she noticed a nun wrapping the baby girl in a big blanket while the mother wept, the nun turned to my grandmother and signaled her to be quiet and tell no one, with that she left the room with the baby. In the early hours of that morning, the Nazis came to get the lady and she was never seen again.
After the war ended my grandmother found the name of the lady who shared her room on a monument dedicated to the deported, it happened to be right in front of my great-grandfathers tomb. It became a ritual for her to stop a moment every time she visited her father’s grave and spend time remembering the young lady. Sometime in the 80’s my grandmother noticed another woman reading the names. She initiated conversation and before long the lady asked her who she was here to remember. It turned out they were there for the same person and even though this lady did not know the person well her eyes filled with tears. She was the baby the nun had wrapped and saved from the concentration camps all those years ago.
Texte & illustrations : Luc Pallegoix ©2015 Traduction : Tammy Bailley