Presented by CIM president Grazina M at the February 2023 general assembly
It is with great pleasure that I welcome you, the membership of Centre d'Interpretation Multiethnique de Rawdon. After a personal absence of 12 years, I am particularly happy to see you all congregated here after many months of difficult conflict and turmoil. You are the heart and soul of this organization, unique to the Lanaudiere region and our very existence is attributed to your support.
For those unaware of our mandate, our specific goals are:
to integrate all ethnic groups of our region as a collective.
and to promote and display the cultural heritage and artistic contributions of the community of Lanaudiere in general and Rawdon in particular, while remaining sensitive to all cultural identities of our town and region.
I wish to call to all of your attention this important point; that the ethnic diversity of our region is on account of our history as immigrants; of the collective sum of all of our ancestors who came to Canada to forge better lives for themselves and their families. It is the diversity of these immigrants, of French, English, Irish, Scottish, Polish, Ukrainian, German, Czech, Russian and numerous other origins, that have built Canada to be the country that it is today and to become the dream and envy of people from around the world. From the shared and cohesive solidarity of our community, we have not only maintained, but proliferated our cultural traditions and customs as a whole, and as a result, enriched the cultural and spiritual development of this country to be a shining example for all to behold.
On behalf of the Board of directors, I wish to express my deepest gratitude for your support with last years’ membership drive. Through our united efforts, were successfully enabled to organize and hold the Special General Meeting of October 15th 2022 that elected us to our offices. Following this very important meeting, there commenced an arduous battle on our part to gain legal and governmental recognition for our administration from the ill intentioned previous one of CIM; legitimacy from an administration mired in conspiracy theories, personal gain and personal power, to one concerned solely with our expressed goals of ethnic and artistic expression and diversity. Without you, my friends, the future of this organisation would have remained uncertain and in grave jeopardy. Thank you very much for your presence then and now.
Dear members, on behalf of the board of directors, I would like to apologize to you for our silence since the Special General Meeting of October 15. I must assure you, however, that this silence was not due to a lack of care or effort on our part. During this interim period, we have been hard at work managing the tenacious opposition to our legitimacy from the previous board of directors. During this time, we were accused of fraud, illegality and even racism by them. Our struggles to gain recognition at our bank, with the police and with the government were met with resistance at every turn by our adversaries.
The manifest from our October meeting, entitled “Attestation of Facts”, was completely ignored by them. For those who were not in attendance in October, this document outlined the previous administration repeated violations of the expressed directive of the Charter of CIM; the official government document of our group created in 1988 by the General inspectors of financial institutions of Quebec. With no other recourse, we were forced to hire legal assistance to aid in our struggles. Yet our letters of ‘cease and desist’ subsequently sent to them were not only categorically ignored by them, but answered with false accusations and threats. Their tactics did not end there however. Our Treasurer Helen Bridgman and I were threatened by repeated calls to the police on the part of our adversaries. Our lawyer’s firm was also sent legal threats by them. Throughout this difficult time, we did not have access to either our bank account nor to the building of CIM and its resources but were instead forced to take on this fight on our own personal grounds and through our own personal funding.
After much time and effort, however, on November 21, 2022 we were at last recognized by Registraire des Entreprises du Quebec as a legitimate administration. With this recognition, we were authorized to hire a locksmith to remove the padlock from the door of CIM and to subsequently change all the locks in the building. We were able to regain control of our business phone line that had been deviously rerouted to the Marlow's personal telephone. And despite repeated push-back from our alarm security company, we were finally able to have recognition from them as well.
From this point onward we commenced to refurbish our building from its state of disrepair. We hired out work to paint the large gathering hall that you now sit in, as well as the side entrance vestibule, the two washrooms and small hallway connecting them. Board meetings were finally held at CIM, and planning for events was restarted.
Yet the Marlows still did not give up! Further calls to the police were made by them, accusing us of breaking into the building, which they absurdly claimed that they themselves owned! Further, in early December the Marlows made a legal challenge of our legitimacy with the Registraire des Entreprises du Quebec contradicting our election and mandate, and as a result, forced us to cease all work at CIM. From this point onward we could not do nothing but plan our legal strategy and wait for the final decision from the government.
Finally on January 11th of this year, the Registraire des Entreprises du Quebec maintained and upheld its original decision from November 21, 2022 and we could once again start working at CIM.
WE HAD WON!
At this point we renewed our efforts to bring back CIM to its former strength and vigor. Since then:
We have replaced two broken refrigerators and one stove with functioning ones
We installed tracks and the chains to the walls of the main hall to properly hang artistic works so that the walls would remain clean and without holes from nails.
We moved the wardrobe from downstairs to the side entrance
The unsightly metal filing cabinets were moved from the side entranceway to the basement.
Our round dinner tables with broken legs were refinished and are now like new
Numerous books were removed from downstairs to make more room for the permanent exhibitions
After nearly five years, the floors are washed and waxed;
There are now curtains on our windows
We have created a new website and e-mail address for CIM as well as a beautiful new logo to give more color and style to our organisation
The Board plans to organize a chess club, a knitting club, informative craft and cooking seminars, as well as a boutique for cultural merchandise.
For future events, the Board of directors have prepared a very interesting cultural program for you:
On March 11 of this year we will have a beautiful vernisage from the Polish artist Teresa Kastalik who makes lovely artistic fabrics and tapestries. During this vernisage, her 12 year old daughter will show her talents on our concert baby piano
On April 22 the famous violinist, Sergiej Trofanov from Moldova and his wife Olga, a pianist from Ukraine will perform Roma music for you
In May we will open the door for you for a Spring dinner with dance music played by George Camitis from Greece
This summer our neglected garden will be replanted and made beautiful once again. The monument of Ludmila Shiriajev from Russia - the founder of The National Ballet of Canada, will be surrounded by flowers;
For the distant future, we hope to raise funds to build a grand concert hall in the place of the stables at the back of the building that now only stores junk. An ambitious project of considerable expense.
I now ask only for your continued support of our honourable efforts. I wish to emphasize to you that not only are you very important to CIM, you ARE CIM! This organisation cannot exist without you! As shown by our victory, made possible from your support in October, YOU are the power of CIM, not the President or the Board of Directors! Please, come to this place for our cultural events. Bring your friends. Bring your family, and together we will once again make CIM strong and famous. We will make this organisation as a star of Rawdon, like it was in the past. I am sure that each person in this town will be proud of it. I know that together we can realize our ambitious plan.
In Poland we say: “If you want it, you can move mountains!” Thank you very much for your attention.