American Council for Polish Culture - 69th Annual Convention

Toronto, Ontario, Canada [spacer] August 9 - 12, 2017

Crossing Borders to Promote Polish Culture


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Group Picture ACPC 69th Annual Convention at the Katyn Monument in the Beaty Boulevard Parkette, Toronto
ACPC President Tom Payne is 12th from the left, back row
(photograph taken by our tour guide during group tour of the city)


Up-North, the ACPC Convention 2017

Those arriving on August 9 were pleasantly surprised to find that the destination hotel "The Old Mill" resembled a movie version of an old English Tudor manor. Inside however, the arrangements were thoroughly modern. The first night reception took place in Tom Payne's room which, fortunately, had a large balcony to accommodate the overflow of guests.

On Thursday the convention commenced in the Balmoral Room with the singing of national anthems (Polish, Canadian and US) by Kinga Mitrowska, voice coach of Anna Wojcik our Marcella Sembrich Competition winner. The invocation was delivered by Fr. Philip Majka. Debbie Majka introduced the Vice Consul of Poland in Toronto Natalia Iwaszko and Mayor of Mississauga Bonnie Crombie. Her Honor spoke about the diverse community she serves and how her own Polish roots positively affect her life. ACPC president Tom Payne then welcomed all who came to participate in this year's convention.

During the business sessions a number of items were taken up. Carol Surma presented the modified ACPC Constitution as amended and approved at the Chicago Convention on Aug. 8, 2015. This document is posted on the ACPC website. (see: ACPC Constitution)

Cecilia and Ray Glembocki reported on plans for the 2017 National Conference for the Social Studies in San Francisco NCSS (Nov. 17-18). They showcased two books: A Guide to the History of Poland and Why I am Proud to be Polish which they will try to distribute to interested parties. They also gave out a 4-page booklet Polish Heritage in the Washington DC Area.

Peter Obst mentioned the Oct. 7-9 ACPC Board Meeting which will take place in Savannah, GA. During morning ceremonies on Oct. 9, three stone tablets will be dedicated. Two are sponsored by Raymond Okonski of Detroit (Pulaski, Kosciuszko) and one (for Capt. Jan Zielinski) by the Savannah Gen. Casimir Pulaski Committee which is helping to organize the event together with the Georgia Coastal Heritage Society. (see: Savannah Board Meeting)

Debbie Majka reported that the Texas based Austin Polish Society has joined the ACPC as a Supporting Member. We welcome them heartily. (see: Austin Polish Society)

Jaroslaw Golembiowski encouraged participation in the "Polonika" Polish Art website project initiated by the Polish Ministry of Culture. This is an attempt to create a world-wide data base of monuments that commemorate Polish achievement and projects built by Polish artists and engineers located outside Polish borders. Interested parties will find more information on the website and are invited to contribute information and photographs. (see: www.polonika.gov.pl) Unfortunately, this project is just getting started and the English language version of the site is not yet operational.

One unresolved issue is the place and/or host organization for the Spring Board Meeting and the 2018 Convention. Interested persons should contact Tom Payne.

At noon the lunchtime speaker was Beata Golembiowska (not related to Jaroslaw) who gave an interesting presentation on her two books: In One Suitcase - on Polish aristocrats living in Canada and Theater without Borders about Polish theater in Toronto. To say the least, this was an unexpected exposure to two unexplored facets of the Polonian diaspora. Later, we met the team of Maria Nowotarska and Agata Pilitowska, Torontonians who are carrying on the tradition of performing in Polish. Their specialty is two-person performances on various famous and less-well-known Polish personalities of the arts. Later this year they will perform their Monsieur Chopin at the Polish Home in Philadelphia (Dec. 9).

Late afternoon on Thursday, convention participants hastened to the Polish Consulate General on the Ontario lakefront for the Marcella Kochanska Sembrich concert. The competition winner was 17 year-old Anna Wojcik of Toronto, a student at the Cawthra Park Secondary School. She has been studying voice with Kinga Mitrowska since she was nine. A winner of many competitions, Anna has taken part in the International Festival of Religious Song, the Festival of Polish Song, the Annual Carol Competition and the Talent Nation Rising Star Showcase. She has appeared as a soloist with the Toronto Sinfonetta, the Celebrity Symphony, and the Camerata Chamber Orchestra. She has performed in Brampton, Buffalo, Chicago and Warsaw to much acclaim. In 2015 she won the American Protege Competition and appeared in Carnegie Hall for the winners' recital. She is the 2016 recipient of the Emerging Music Artist MARTY Award.

Vice Consul Natalia Iwaszko, acting in place of RP Consul General Grzegorz Morawski, welcomed a large crowd of over 130 people, that included many members of Toronto Polonia, to the Consulate. Our soloist was superb and expressive, drawing much applause. Alex Wang, her accompanist on the piano, was absolutely outstanding. He is also a student in the music program of the Cawthra Park Secondary School. It was a pleasure to see such talented young people perform at a level equal to that of seasoned professionals.

On Friday morning the group boarded a bus and toured the city of Toronto. The ride included a visit to the Roncesvalles Avenue area which is the traditional Polish neighborhood of Toronto. In nearby Beaty Boulevard Parkette we visited the Katyn Memorial, and two smaller tablets, one commemorating the Smolensk Tragedy, and the other, Polish citizens who after 1940 were forcibly exiled into labor camps and often worked to death. There was barely time to visit the Chinese Market on Spadina Ave., look over Casa Loma, pause at the Distillery District on the Lakeshore and do a quick bit of shopping at the LCB Store before going back to the Hotel.

That day the lunchtime speaker was Tomek Kniat, Publisher of the Dziennik Polonii w Kanadzie, who informed the delegates about POLcast an audio magazine available through the internet on computers, tablets and smartphones.

The convention concluded on Saturday. Elections resulted in the re-election of Tom Payne as president and Robert Synakowski as 1st VP. Ray Glembocki took over as the new 2nd VP. Judi Tompkins continues as Treasurer, so does Marcia Lewandowski as Recording Secretary. A total of 20 resolutions were passed, including one that honored Polish-American historian Edward Pinkowski on Aug. 12, his 101st birthday (all are posted under News on the ACPC website)." (see: Resolutions)

The awards banquet took place in the elegant Humber Room of the Old Mill Hotel. The Founders Award was presented to Florence Langridge; the Cultural Achievement Award to Jaroslaw Golembiowski; and Distinguished Service Awards to Anthony Bajdek and Ray Okonski. Each awardee left the audience a few words to ponder, but most eloquent was the 92 year-old Ray. During his tongue-in-cheek presentation he spoke about how he "made" his money the old fashioned way (by printing it) and underscored his "cash to burn" finish by spontaneously igniting a fake fifty-dollar bill. His listeners received samples of genuine two-dollar banknotes as souvenirs. It was an enjoyable evening that was toasted later in Tom Payne's "hospitality suite." Thus concluded the ACPC's visit with our friends "up-north" and the hope that we will meet once again at the next convention after year's passage.

Photographs

(Jackie Kolowski = JK, Peter Obst = PO, Christina Topolosky = CT)

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1. Dave Motak again produced a superb program that featured a custom Convention logo, beautiful color, and the Toronto Coat of Arms "Diversity our Strength"

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2. The Old Mill Inn had a distinctly "English Tudor" look and charm (CT)

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3. Meeting in the beautiful conference room (CT)

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4. (l. to r.) Hon. Consul Debbie Majka, Mayor of Mississagua Bonnie Crombie, Vice Consul of the Republic of Poland Natalia Iwaszko, Voice Coach Kinga Mitrowska (JK)

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5. (l. to r.) ACPC President Tom Payne, 2nd VP Alicia Dutka, Treasurer Judi Tompkins, Recording Secretary Marcia Lewandowski (JK)

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6. Books showcased by Raymond and Cecilia Glembocki

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Cecilia and Ray Glembocki present on the NCSS (JK)

The Marcella Kochanska Sembrich Concert

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7. The Concert took place at the Polish Consulate General of Canada in Toronto, on Lake Ontario (CT)

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8. Concert Program


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9. (l. to. r.) Debbie Majka, Richard Larkin, ACPC President Tom Payne, Accompanist Alex Wang, Singer Anna Wojcik,
Music Committee Chair Jaroslaw Golembiowski, Alicia Dudka (JK)

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10. (l. to. r.) Accompanist Alex Wang, Voice Coach Kinga Mitrowska, Soprano Anna Wojcik, Mrs. Wojcik the singer's mother (CT)

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11. (r. to l.) In the audience: Ray Okonski, Barbara Lemecha, Henrietta Nowakowski, Richard and Nancy Lunney, Fr. Philip Majka (JK)

The Toronto Bus Tour

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12. Aboard the Tour Bus (CT)

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13. Barbara Lemecha and Christina Topolosky on a Toronto Street (PO)

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14. The Sir Casimir Gzowski Monument (PO)


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15. Sir Casimir Gzowski, Polish-Canadian RR builder (PO)

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16. In the Toronto Chinese Market on Spadina Avenue (PO)

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17. In the Distillery District on the Lake Ontario
shorefront (PO)

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18. The Smolensk Memorial in the Beaty Boulevard
Parkette (PO)


The Awards Banquet

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19. (l. to r.) Jaroslaw Golembiowski, Debbie Majka, Fr. Philip Majka, Florence Langridge, Alicia Dutka, Raymond Okonski, ACPC President Tom Payne (JK)


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20. (l. to. r) President of ACPC Tom Payne (standing), Mary Ellen Tyszka, Robert Synakowski, Anthony Bajdek (JK)


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21. (l. to. r.) Florence Langridge receives
the Founders Award from 2nd VP
Alicia Dutka (JK)

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22. (l. to. r.) Jaroslaw Golembiowski
receives the Cultural Achievement Award
from 1st VP Robert Synakowski (JK)

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23. (l. to. r.) Debbie Majka presents the
Distinguished Service Award
to Anthony Bajdek (JK)

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24. (l. to. r.) Ray Okonski receives the Distinguished Service Award from ACPC President Tom Payne (JK)

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25. Officers sworn into the ACPC (l. to r): Carol Surma, Tiffany Loomis, Ray Glembocki, Marcia Lewandowski, Robert Dutka (JK)


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26. (l. to r.) Richard Lapham, Cecilia and Ray Glembocki (JK)


Looking forward to seeing you at the next ACPC convention in 2018