107th World Esperanto Congress in Montreal: a success, beyond hurdles


MONTREAL, QC, August 22, 2022 – The 107th World Esperanto Congress, which opened on August 6, officially came to an end on Saturday, August 13th, with the traditional official closing ceremony, held in the presence of Mrs. Silvia Costantini, Consul General of Italy in Montreal, who received the flag symbolizing the passage from one Congress to another. This was the second World Congress to be held in Canada, and the first in Eastern North America since the 6th Congress (Washington, 1910). The 108th World Esperanto Congress will be held in Turin, Italy, from July 29 to August 5, 2023.

The outcome of the Congress has been described by the local organizing committee and by the World Esperanto Association (Universala Esperanto-Asocio or UEA, in Esperanto) as extremely positive. The UEA has also awarded the local organizing committee a diploma for “outstanding activity” for its efforts over several years to organize the Congress in Montreal.

The first informal steps to organize the World Congress in Montreal had indeed begun in 2014, leading to a first request the following year to organize the 102nd Congress, in 2017. However, the UEA at the time elected to choose Seoul’s bid (South Korea). The Montreal group nevertheless persevered and renewed its proposal for 2020, which was accepted in 2017. However, the event had to be postponed for two years, until 2022, because of the pandemic.

The theme of the Congress, “Language, Life, Land: the Decade of Indigenous Languages”, referring to the UNESCO Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032) and in line with the UEA’s action in favor of minority languages and cultures, was successfully addressed and resulted in an official closing declaration. The proceedings were led by Mark Fettes, a Canadian and former UEA president, who is an Assistant Professor at Simon Fraser University and a specialist in education in indigenous contexts. Delegates had the opportunity to participate in talks, discussions and an introduction to the Anishinaabe language. Moreover, the Congress symbolically took place under the auspices of Huron-Wendat historian and philosopher, Georges Sioui.

The artistic program was particularly noteworthy and featured outstanding Canadian contributions: Joëlle Rabu and Nico Rhodes, Yves Desrosiers, Étienne Laflamme and Kristina Miroshkina, Bïa, as well as several members of the musical ensemble Oktoecho (in a performance that allegorically portrayed the history of Montreal).

Congress participants also had the opportunity to see the original play “1910” by Montreal Esperantist Yevgeniya Amis, based on the writings of British Esperantist William Mann (played by Garry Evans) as he recounts his trip with Esperanto’s creator, L. L. Zamenhof, to Washington for the 1910 Congress, and then to Canada, including Montreal, where other members of the Zamenhof family lived.

The Bobelarto collective, responsible for the Intercultural Esperanto Short Story Contest (already in its second edition), was able to personally present the prizes to the winners of the first edition, which took place during the pandemic, in the presence of Quebec author Claudia Larochelle, honorary president of the contest.

The Congress also boasted a very rich program of talks including the traditional International Congress University (for the first time in a hybrid virtual/on-site format), a series on the history and culture of Montreal, Quebec and Canada, as well as several others on history, art, geopolitics and the Esperanto community, among other topics.

Lastly, the Congress was mentioned many times in the media, including television, radio and the written press. Nearly twenty mentions or articles were counted, notably in the main media outlets of the greater Montreal area (including Radio-Canada/CBC, La Presse, Le Devoir, CTV, The Gazette), in both French and English.