The Polish-Canadian community in Windsor, Ont., will mourn the death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski with a memorial mass Monday. 

'What I remember of him: straightforward, laughing, talking jokes.' —Jerry Barycki, Canadian Polish Congress

Kacynski, 60, and dozens of other senior military and government leaders from Poland were killed in a plane crash in Russia on Saturday.

The deaths shocked Polish-Canadians in Windsor, who have planned a tribute mass for 7 p.m. Monday at Holy Trinity Catholic Church on Ellis Street.


Lech Kaczynski was elected president in 2005, after serving four years as the mayor of Warsaw. ((Markus Schreiber/Associated Press))

"We are very thankful for many words of support and thoughts offered by many, many Canadians," said Jerry Barycki, acting president of the Canadian Polish Congress. "We feel great that we have that many people who support us."

Nearly 15,000 of the country's one million Polish-Canadians live in the Windsor-Essex region.

Thousands of Poles lined the streets of Warsaw on Sunday to watch Kaczynski's coffin go by.

Barycki told CBC News the president told him about his relatives in Canada when the two met at the opening ceremonies for a winter sports competition in Poland just last month.

"What I remember of him: straightforward, laughing, talking jokes, because after the press conference we were about 30 people in a room with local food, which is quite unique for the mountains people," said Barycki.

Flight bound for Katyn memorial

Many Polish-Canadians spoke of disbelief and sadness over Saturday's plane crash, which killed 96 people, including the president and his wife, the country's army chief, central bank governor and other leaders.

The dignitaries were on their way to a memorial for the 70th anniversary of the 1940 Katyn Forest massacre, in which Soviet secret police killed 22,000 Polish military officers.

Investigators say readings from flight recorders indicate there were no technical problems with the plane.

The Polish Embassy in Ottawa and five consulates across the country opened their doors Saturday for people to sign books of condolences, as did a number of municipalities.

Poland's parliament is expected to hold a special session Tuesday. Eighteen parliamentarians died in the crash.