The North Shore Polish Association "Belweder" is a non-profit organization established in 2002. Its members are Canadians of Polish descent and/or origins, mainly those who live on the North Shore of Vancouver.
The following are main goals of our organization: to keep the Polish culture and tradition alive among the Polish community in Canada; to continue and transfer the thousand-year cultural heritage of Poland to the present and future generations; to promote all types of programs designed to further not only knowledge of the Polish history, language and culture but also to stimulate involvement of Polish-Canadian citizens in local, national, and international environments.
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, by the initiative of Urszula Sulinska, the Belweder North Shore Polish Association was established as a cultural representative and social community organization to promote 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.
Polish school in 2002. From left: Urszula Sulinska, Mirek Mituta, Teresa Rakowska, Consul General of the Republic of Poland Krzysztof Czapla, Bozena Lukomska-Khan and Danuta Dmowska.
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.
Belweder's founding member and long-time President Urszula Sulińska with Vice President Izabella Sobieski The Shipyards, 29 July 2022. Photo: Alison Boulier
POLISH FESTIVAL: BRINGING COMMUNITY TOGETHER
Over the last 20 years, Belweder North Shore Polish Association has been involved in organizing cultural and community events throughout the Lower Mainland, of which the annual Polish Festival Vancouver is its signature event.
The Polish Festival Vancouver runs every year in September at the Shipbuilders Square and the Pipe Shop. This inclusive and open, festive event is organized with great consideration for everyone who shares in human values of freedom, love, and compassion.
Members of Belweder North Shore Polish Association Urszula Sulińska President and Izabella Sobieski Vice President with Hon. Bruce Ralston Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology, Bowinn Ma MLA North Vancouver – Lonsdale, Iwona Świątczak President of Canadian Polish Congress and other members of the Polish community, 9 September 2018.