Spotlight - Dr. Tom Urbaniak

Happy July! We are indeed happy to celebrate yet another accomplished Polish-Nova Scotian (or rather Polish-Cape Bretoner) of the month - Dr. Tom Urbaniak.

Dr. Tom Urbaniak was born in Toronto to a family of Polish heritage and grew up in Mississauga surrounded by a large Polish community.

When he came to Cape Breton in 2004, he expected to stay a mere 8 months, in order to replace a professor on sabbatical at Cape Breton University. As the work term came to a close, he did not anticipate that he would be offered a permanent faculty position at CBU nor that Cape Breton would become his cherished home for now over a decade.
Presently, Tom is Chair of CBU's Department of Political Science and also teaches in the MBA program in Community Economic Development. He is Vice Chair of the CBU Senate and serves on the CBU President's Council on Multicultural Learning.
As a trilingual gifted public speaker, he is frequently called upon by the local media to offer political and policy analysis. He has authored four books and is the current Chair of the Board of Governors of Canada's National Trust; an organization that works with Canadians to protect historic places and regenerate communities.
Tom was founding chair of the Affordable Housing Renovation Partnership and helped to establish Habitat for Humanity's presence in Cape Breton. As a member of the Sydney Architectural Conservation Society, he proposed Nova Scotia's first local heritage conservation revolving fund.

Tom is also a member of the Canadian Polish Research Institute. In 2014, he was a member of the Canadian Election Observation Mission in Ukraine.
Through all of Tom's endeavours, it is evident that he is a very community minded individual. However, it is likely that the Polish community of Cape Breton is the one that he holds most dear. He noted recently, "I didn't have family in Cape Breton. The Polish community - the community of St. Mary's Polish Parish - became, in effect, my extended family. I felt welcomed. I was encouraged to use the Polish language and to learn about cultural traditions. I was even invited to join the Pogoria Polish Folk Ensemble - something I had never imagined doing!"
During his time in Cape Breton, Tom has quickly become a leader in the Polish community. He is the Chair of the Parish Council at St. Mary's Polish Church and the Recording Secretary of the St. Michael's Polish Benefit Society - one of the oldest continuous Polish organizations in Canada.
He remarked: "The resilience and perseverance of the Cape Breton Polish community over the generations are really amazing - I would go so far as to say that the Cape Breton Polonia is one of the great success stories of Polonia generally. The community has survived and even thrived in the face of a lot of adversity."
As a proud 'Polish Cape Bretoner', Tom now faces one of the biggest challenges of his life as he plays an integral role in the rebuilding of St. Mary's Polish Church, destroyed in a recent tragic fire.
When asked, from where, he gathers his initiative, he remarked: "One of the things that motivates me, I think, is a sense of duty and a sense of community. I see that in others. If you're entrusted with a duty, you don't abandon ship in the middle of a storm. You try to draw on your strengths and the qualities of others, you listen to people and acknowledge mistakes. You pray for the best, but never give up."

​Spotlight - Margareta Boivin


Margareta Boivin (MMBoivin)

Margareta Boivin (MBoivin) is a Canadian artist - painter.  She was born in Lublin, Poland, but when she was still a child her parents fled the communist Poland to Austria; two years later her family was sponsored to Windsor, Ontario, and Canada became their home. 

 MBoivin spent most of her life living in Windsor, Ontario, where she obtained several degrees from the University of Windsor, including a degree in Computer Science and an Honours degree in Political Science.  However, her true love was painting so she went on to obtain an additional Honours degree in Visual Arts, Art History, and Visual Culture with a Minor in Philosophy and studied painting under Iain Baxter& - a famous Canadian conceptual artist and a recipient of the Officer of the Order of Canada (2003) Award.

 Five years ago MBoivin moved to Halifax to work for the Royal Canadian Navy.  As a reservist member of the Royal Canadian Navy, she has travelled extensively throughout Canada and had even visited the Arctic.  From her extensive travels throughout Canada she gains inspiration to create new art. 

 MBoivin is known for her oil paintings that echo her travels and experiences with the Royal Canadian Navy, and glorify Canadian diversity.  Her paintings that depict Canada often incorporate materials from the places that she visits. 

In addition, her degree in Computer Science has led Margareta to create paintings that deal with the effects that technological innovation has on the lifestyles of people, and have led her to sign her paintings in an unconventional way; instead of signing her paintings with her name she often signs with her website

Currently MBoivin is showing her work in Nova Scotia; you can visit her website to see the dates for her future shows. 






Spotlight - Eric Bednarski

Eric Bednarski

Is a Warsaw based film director/writer. Born in Halifax, Bednarski studied history and filmmaking in North America and Europe. His documentary film work with the National Film Board of Canada has garnered him a Gemini Award and a Writers Guild of Canada Award nomination. Recently, he was awarded the Decoration of Honour "Meritorious for Polish Culture" by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. Bednarski's films have been broadcast across the world and have also screened at international festivals, at the United Nations, the European Parliament and the State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau. 

Decoration of Honour "Meritorious for Polish Culture" - The Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage Odznaka honorowa Zasłużony dla Kultury Polskiej - Ministerstwo Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego.

Eric Bednarski Filmography:

Poland, 2014 - 52 minutes

Neon retraces the history of the Communist-era neon signs of Warsaw, Poland, the context that generated them, the people and places connected with them, and the many meanings they have acquired since they were created. The neons were intended to convey a feeling of modernity and progress in a country cut off from the West. Socialist-blessed, they nevertheless mimicked the colour, dazzle and glamour of post-War capitalist cities.
Today, these neon signs are celebrated and much sought after. In recent years interest in them has grown not only in Poland, but also abroad. 

The Strangest Dream
Canada, 2008 - 90 minutes

The story of Polish Physicist and University of Warsaw graduate Sir Joseph Rotblat and the role of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs to halt nuclear proliferation and bring about disarmament. The film moves from the site of the first nuclear test to Cairo, where Pugwash scientists meet under the cloud of nuclear proliferation, as well as Hiroshima, where the first atomic bomb was dropped. The film features interviews with Rotblat's contemporaries, members of the Pugwash movement and passionate public figures.