Kashuby, Canada – Kaszuby, Poland, an exhibition presenting Polish and Canadian Kashuby, was recently on display at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto where for the first time ever, Canada's largest museum of world culture and natural history celebrated Canada’s rich Polish Heritage and the story of Canada’s first Polish settlement and Kashubian community.
The first Kashubs migrated to Canada in 1858, nine years before an independent Canada was founded in 1867. Today, there are 10,000 Canadians who claim their ancestry as Kashub.
Organized jointly by the Kashub Parliamentary Group and the Embassy of Canada, the exhibit toured a number of venues in order to profile the Kashubian culture that exists both in Poland and in Canada.
Launching in July 2012 at the Canadian Embassy in Poland, the exhibit made its way to the Polish Kashubian region where it was on display during the summer of 2012 at the Centre for Regional Education and Learning at Szymbark.
The exhibit garnered more attention when it was profiled in October at the Senate of the Republic of Poland where Senate Speaker Bogdan Borusewicz celebrated the community and supported the exhibit remarking, “There are only a few of such Polish speaking communities in the world”.
The Speaker mentioned that Canadian Kashubs had not only kept their identity but also still speak their beautiful Kashubian language, which is seldom to be heard even in the Polish Kashuby where they come from.
Senator Kazimierz Kleina, the Chair of the Kashubian Group in the Polish Parliament, showed the guests around the exhibition presenting a rural community, known as the "Polish-Kashubian heart of Canada”, as well as beautiful places in the Polish Eastern Pomerania region, inhabited by the Kashubs.
In November, the exhibit was given an even larger splash at the ROM as it coincided with Polish Heritage Day. As a joint project of the ROM and the Canadian Polish Congress, the impressive array of themed programming included piano recitals highlighting Polish composers, live traditional music and dance performed by Polish-Canadian ensembles. It also featured the Polish Spirit Exhibition, which reflected the contribution of 61 Polish Canadians to Canadian heritage, the photo exhibition Warsaw 1945-1956, a film screening, and Polish cuisine.
In addition to the touring Kashuby exhibit, the ROM also featured a section that emphasized the theme of Canada's First Polish Settlement and Kashubian Community, Past and Present. With a variety of artifacts, the exhibit described some of what the Kashubs left behind and what they brought with them from the homeland, as well as the new life they made for themselves in Canada. It also included an element of the present day Kashubian revival and recovery of Kashubian identification and heritage.
The photos from the Kashuby exhibit are now at the Polish Kashub Heritage Museum in Wilno, where they will be exhibited throughout 2013.