Maria Sawa

Maria Sawa – Edmontonian of the Century (1946-2005)


In late 1970s and 1980 Edmonton witnessed an influx of the Immigrants from Poland, which was subjected to communist dictatorship.

The citizens lacked political and personal freedoms. Upon arrival in Edmonton the new immigrants had to integrate and adapt themselves to a life in democracy, learn a new language and build a new life for their families. They experienced many challenges. Maria Sawa was one of these immigrants.

She realized that some help was needed. As a teacher she was especially concerned with the difficulties of the children. She decided to explore the possibility of opening a Polish Bilingual Program.

In 1982 she approached Maria Romanko, a teacher of 25 years and member of Polish Community in Edmonton to familiarize her with the Edmonton Public Schools System. Armed with this information, exceptional initiative, and energy Maria achieved her goal. She had a gift of recruiting knowledgeable and influential people to facilitate her work efforts.

Her dream was fulfilled when in September of 1984 the Polish Bilingual Program of John Paul II opened its door. It helped the children and the parents to integrate and adapt to the new life in Edmonton. They became hard working and resourceful citizens, who contributed greatly to development of Edmonton.  Maria’s role in their success was extraordinary and that is why she was recommended to be recognized as one of the great Edmontonians of the Century.

Such recognition encouraged new immigrants to follow her example.