Dear Friends: Since I last wrote to you in mid-December, the Québec Government Office in London has organised and participated in many exciting business and cultural events promoting Québec in our territory.
We had a busy and productive start to the year with two ministerial missions. Minister Pierre Arcand, Chair of the Treasury Board and whose ministerial responsibilities include Government Administration and Ongoing Program Review, met with various experts, including government officials, in the areas of shared services and government infrastructure projects.
Minister Arcand also addressed a packed crowd at an event at the Québec Government Office in London, in the context of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) mission, bringing together companies and researchers from Québec, Canada as a whole and the UK. At this reception, the very successful Québec firm Element AI announced that they are to expand into Europe with the opening of a new office in London.
Minister Pierre Moreau, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, also led a mission to Norway in January, attending the Arctic Frontiers conference. Minister Moreau was a guest panelist, and was accompanied by Robert Sauvé, CEO of the Société du Plan Nord, and Jean Lemire, Québec’s Emissary for Climate Change and Nordic and Arctic Issues.
Early February saw the finalization of the special call for projects for cultural cooperation, sponsored by the Ministère des Relations internationales et de la Francophonie, and the British Council. This call marked the 15th anniversary of cultural cooperation between Québec and the UK and generated an extremely high level of applications from artists and arts organisations in both Québec and the UK. The next call for projects is to be announced in the late spring.
In mid-February, I very much enjoyed welcoming key cultural partners to a sublime concert by the renowned Québec choral group the Studio de Musique Ancienne de Montréal, at St. John’s Smith Square, London.
Two further ministerial visits took place in late February. Minister Robert Poëti, the Minister for Integrity in Public Procurement and for Information Resources, met with a number of UK government officials in both London and Edinburgh, in order to share and learn more about best practices in open government and digital government services. Minister Lise Thériault, the Minister responsible for Consumer Protection and for Housing, also led a mission to London, meeting with public and private sector experts to understand and share the latest best practices in matters of consumer protection policy and legislation.
In early March, Québec-Wales collaboration blossomed as the Welsh Government opened their North America office in Montréal with a wonderful event, which I had the pleasure of attending along with the British High Commissioner to Canada. Another exciting example of high level collaboration between Québec and Wales took place in Cardiff where our Economics Team attended the Biowales life sciences conference in Cardiff, which this year welcomed Québec speaker and expert Dr. Steven Klein.
I was also privileged to be involved, along with the Directors of the Political and Public Affairs department and the Cultural Affairs department, in the Nordic Council of Ministers’ selection process in Copenhagen for co-operative projects in research and innovation or culture between Québec and the Nordic Countries, with very exciting projects presented in both fields.
Our Québec-Nordic collaboration continued in March with a commercial mission, jointly organised by our London team and Export Québec, bringing Québec aluminium clusters to Norway and Iceland so that they might connect and exchange with their Nordic peers. Québec industry delegates visited aluminium plants in both countries. In addition, I was delighted to preside at a special event marking the signing of an MOU between Québec aluminium clusters AluQuébec and Aluminium Valley, and Icelandic aluminium cluster Álklassin. It should be noted that we received a warm welcome at events hosted by the Canadian ambassadors in Norway and Iceland.
To celebrate March as the month of the Francophonie, the Québec Government Office in London organised and co-organised seven events celebrating the French language, right across our territory. With the support of SODEC, four Québec films were screened. I was proud to present La Passion d’Augustine to a large and receptive audience in Dublin. We were privileged to have with us the film’s star actress and pianist, Lysandre Ménard. Québec was pleased to partner with l’Alliance française de Dublin and the Embassy of Canada to Ireland in holding this entertaining event. A similar successful screening of the film took place in Edinburgh in partnership with the High Commission of Canada in the UK and the Consulat général de France à Édimbourg et Glasgow. In Stockholm and Reykjavik, we held another successful event with our local partners, presenting the film Paul à Québec.
The Groupe de la Francophonie de Londres, of which we are a member, and which also includes Canadian, French, Monaco and Swiss diplomatic representations, as well as la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, organised the national finals of the Joutes oratoires. I want to congratulate all the brilliant UK sixth-form students for their excellent French and solid arguments.
We also hosted at the Délégation the fifth edition of our popular literary evening, this year dedicated to the Québec author Stéphane Larue, and featuring Yan Rioux of the Librairie du Québec à Paris.
Finally, 250 enthusiastic spectators crowded into a packed theatre in Notting Hill to enjoy an exciting “Improv” match. And what a competition it was as the members of the Québec Ligue Nationale d’improvisation and French British Improvisation battled it out. The event was supported by the Délégation, the Institut français in London and the High Commission of Canada in the UK.
Late spring and early summer will continue to be a busy and exciting time for us, with many events promoting Québec on the horizon. There is an upcoming mission to London of Québec mining companies, accompanied by representatives of the Société du Plan Nord. On the cultural front, Montréal superstars Arcade Fire tour the UK and Ireland this month, with design, art direction and video content by Québec company Moment Factory. Also in April, Milk & Bone will be supporting Lissie’s performances in the UK and Norway, photography student Samuel Bolduc is due to be recognised at the Sony World Photography Awards in London, and Glasgow International welcomes a solo show by visual artist Nadia Myre. Choreographer Dana Michel will also be performing her piece Mercurial George in Stockholm, while Québec dance company Cas Public tour Sweden with 9.
For more information on upcoming Québec cultural events, please keep an eye out for our May-August brochure, which will be published at the end of this month. May’s activities will include a veritable explosion of Québec popular music in the UK, with tours from artists including Matt Holubowski and Helena Deland, and several artists from Québec performing at both the Great Escape and FOCUS Wales festivals. As the month draws to a close, two theatre companies from Québec will be entertaining young audiences at the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival.
I look forward to seeing you at our upcoming events!