The Quo Vadis Conference in Montreal
Montreal hosted the 5th Canadian edition of Quo Vadis, a conference for young leaders of Polish origin. For three days, delegates from Canada, the United States, Australia, Great-Britain and Poland gathered and participated to workshops, team building sessions, lectures and presentations. Alumni of the previous editions of Quo Vadis agreed to say that the Montreal edition had been the best one so far.
The Quo Vadis conference is the largest and most important forum of its kind, bringing together young Poles and young Polish people living abroad. Quo Vadis has achieved international success: since its first edition in 2009 in Ottawa, the conference took place every year in a Canadian city, as well as abroad. The second American edition of the conference, which was organized this year in Harthford, Connecticut, just ended two weeks ago; the first Australian edition of the conference will be taking place in October.
This year, roughly 120 young leaders of Polish origin who came from Canada, the United States, Australia and Great Britain participated to the Quo Vadis Conference, held from August 16 to August 18 in Montreal. During the workshops, the presentations and the team building sessions, participants discussed, shared their experiences and discovered what to do to encourage participation in the Polish community, promote the Polish identity, and build a positive image for the Polish community abroad, with the help of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Quo Vadis was not only a great educational experience; it also gave the participants the chance to discover Montreal – the largest metropolis in Quebec and a fusion of American and European influences.
Among the participants and the speakers were students, lawyers, artists, doctors and businessmen, all driven by the same goal: to preserve and foster the Polish national identity outside its national borders and in way that is coherent with the expectations of the people living in the 21st century. Representatives of the older generation such as Jerzy Barycki, long-time patron of the conference; Roy Eaton, an American musician fascinated with Poland; Irene Tomaszewski, a Canadian journalist who specializes in the Polish thematic; Professor Walter Perchal, a meritorious officer of the Canadian Forces, known for his energy and his capacity to motivate the crowds, were also among the speakers. These are outstanding individuals who promote Poland and the Polish identity across North American, and who attended Quo Vadis in order to share their fascination with Poland with the younger generation. The 5th edition of Quo Vadis received help from the Polish-Canadian Congress Quebec Division and its President, Edward Sliz, as well as the support of many sponsors in the Polish community of Montreal.
Andrzej Szydlo, Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Montreal was the official patron and main sponsor of the event. Ambassador Zenon Kosiniak-Kamysz, who was ending his mission in Canada was the one to open the Conference. The Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Toronto, Grzegorz Morawski, the representative of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dorota Barys, and the Chief of the Division for the Promotion of Commerce and Investment at the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Montreal, Rafal Pawlak, were also at the conference. Honorary guests at the opening ceremony of Quo Vadis were: the Canadian Minister for Multiculturalism, Tim Uppal, the Deputy Minister Ted Opitz, proudly displaying his Polish roots, as well as Helene Leblanc, who was representing the LaSalle borough in Montreal where many people of Polish origin live. The city of Montreal was represented by the deputy mayor Michel Bissonet, a prominent politician and himself a perfect example of multiculturalism. The Canadian and Polish national hymns were sang in a unique manner by Katy Carr, a young artist of Polish and British origin, star of the British Folk scene and also a participant to the conference.
After two days of intensive work, the participants finally gathered at the Polish Consulate in Montreal for the closing ceremony. No one was hiding their satisfaction about the time spent together at the conference and the decisions made regarding the future and the reach of Quo Vadis. The city of Vancouver will most probably be the location chosen for next year’s edition.