On 29 July 2022, members of the Belweder North Shore Polish Association made their way to MONOVA: Museum of North Vancouver (115 West Esplanade) to sign a letter of cooperation. Over a year in the making, the agreement will guide future cooperation between the two organizations with the aim of preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of Polish North Shore residents for future generations.
The agreement includes:
- An agreement to work collaboratively to further their common values and goals and will exchange expertise and best-practices throughout joint projects.
- A commitment to ensure the integrity and protection of historical materials.
- A commitment to collaboratively identify and pursue funding and/or in-kind contributions to support this collaborative work.
- An agreement to strive to organize, interpret, and exhibit collected materials for the benefit of the public.
“By promoting arts, culture, and a tradition that is uniquely Polish, we wish to celebrate the diversity of many ethnic backgrounds within the community we live in and to encourage the integration and appreciation of its next-door neighbours,” stated Belweder President Urszula Sulińska.
MONOVA’s values are rooted in inclusiveness,” added NVMA Commission Chair Dee Dhaliwal. “Through this partnership with Belweder we’re excited to continue our work to welcome and reflect the diverse range of North Vancouver communities, resident groups, neighbourhoods, and stories through our activities.”
READ THE AGREEMENT: Letter of Cooperation between MONOVA and Belweder
Ryszard Wojciechowski’s Joe Bustemente Trumpet
Commissioned by North Vancouver Recreation and Culture, the sculpture was originally part of the rejuvenation plan for Lower Lonsdale area and was a companion piece to the artwork North Shore Rhapsody, which envisioned the history of North Vancouver expressed in musical form.
You can learn more about Ryszard Wojciechowski’s impact on the North Shore Polish community on The Inlet.
Belweder: A Hub for the Polish Diaspora
The North Shore has a long history of attracting diverse communities, with thousands of Polish Canadians calling the North Shore home since the 19th century.
According to 2016 Canadian Census, there are around 6,500 people of Polish origin living in North and West Vancouver, with an additional 2,900 in other parts of the North Shore, as far as Whistler.
In 2002, in order to create a hub for the Polish diaspora in North Vancouver, the Belweder North Shore Polish Association was established as a cultural representative and social community organization promotes Polish culture, arts, language, and understanding of history within the context of multiculturalism in Canadian society and Canada’s history. The organization is an active member of the Canadian Polish Congress, British Columbia Chapter.
A prominent trend of the Polish people in Canada is the relative ease and rapidity of their integration into the wider Canadian society. While this is positive, the downside can be loss of Polish language and cultural identity as quickly as the second generation.
To respond to this challenge, Belweder aims to foster a powerful sense of identity and purpose through honouring the unique perspective of youth and elders alike. The organization has preserved much of the Polish community’s cultural heritage and maintained traditions through various forms of community engagements and activities.
Belweder’s founding member and longtime President, Urszula Sulińska, has been devoted to bringing people together, and unifying them for the betterment of the Polish community and Canadian society.
For her commitment, dedication and accomplishments in building and strengthening the Polish community, Urszula was awarded the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland in 2013 and received a Community Award of West Vancouver in the Arts & Culture category in 2015 for promoting Polish culture and art in West Vancouver.
Urszula Sulińska works with a team of volunteers including Izabella Sobieski, an IT entrepreneur who serves as Belweder’s longtime Vice President. Izabella is well known for her dedication and hard work in serving Polish community and has contributed to Belweder’s many successes.
Additionally, Belweder is supported by Michael Dembek who is the youngest president of the Canadian Polish Congress (BC Chapter), and Filip Jaworski who has a long history of supporting Polish communities throughout Canada and Europe.
Polish Festival: Bringing Community Together
Over the last 20 years, Belweder North Shore Polish Association has been involved in organising cultural and community events throughout the Lower Mainland, of which the annual Polish Festival Vancouver is its signature event.
The Polish Festival Vancouver returns this year on September 4, 2022 at the Shipbuilders Square and the Pipe Shop. This inclusive and open, festive event is organised with great consideration for everyone who shares in human values of freedom, love, and compassion.
Join Belweder for fun, games, dance, music and some delicious Polish food! To learn more about the Polish Festival, click here.
We rely on contributions, monthly or one-time gifts, to help MONOVA safeguard and expand our community’s archival and museum collections, build learning experiences and inspire future generations.
Donations are accepted through the Friends of the North Vancouver Museum & Archives Society, Registered Charity No. 89031 1772 RR0001.
We respectfully acknowledge that MONOVA: Museum and Archives of North Vancouver is located on the traditional lands of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations, whose ancestors have lived here for countless generations. We are grateful for the opportunity to live, work and learn with them on unceded Coast Salish Territory.