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Canada Region

Canada Region

Regional Coordinator:
Menegakis Costas (Unionville / Ontario)

Regional Coordinating Council Member:
Dagonas John (Mississauga / Ontario)
Fousias Athanasios (Toronto / Ontario)
Theodosopoulos John (Dorval / Quebec)
Volonakis Spyros (Toronto / Ontario)

Website:
www.saecanada.net

Hellenism in Canada

Hellenes in Canada started forming organizations in the early 20th century with the establishment of Greek Orthodox Communities-Parishes in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and other major cities.

At the same time, ethnic identity associations of a localized nature, with members usually coming from a specific region in Greece, were also formed, currently numbering roughly 350. Associations cooperate with each other and have created organizations such as the Hellenic Canadian Congresses of the Provinces, Unions and over 50 federations as well as the Hellenic Canadian Congress – National confederation. The Greek community became the main representative institution for the Greeks living in major urban centers. The Communities formed embraced the Greeks regardless of their origin, faith or social standing and offered them services they needed when making their first steps for a better life in a new and unfamiliar place.

Today, the Greek community in Canada numbers roughly 350,000 members forming a dynamic, hard-working and creative part of local societies. The Greek Canadians are very proud of their Greek culture, religion, traditions and customs and also of the European course followed by the motherland. Across Canada all children of Greek descent learn the Greek History, speak the Greek language, dance the Greek folk dances and sing Greek songs currently popular in Greece.

Each year, the 78 Greek Orthodox parishes organize national parades, popular Greek festivals, cultural events and celebrations. The Greek Canadians have made great progress both at a personal level and professionally becoming distinguished members of local societies, socially, politically and financially.

The main characteristics of today’s Greek communities in Canada are their successful integration into the Canadian society, their professional recognition and the active presence of the second and third generation Greek Canadians. At the top of the socio-economic pyramid of the Greek communities are businessmen and professionals. The Greeks in Canada have fully adjusted to local societies without being culturally assimilated preserving their own special cultural identity and heritage.

SAE Canada Regional Coordinating Council:

In recognition of the important role and service of the Greek Canadians, Canada became a SAE Region represented by a 5-member Coordinating Council as stipulated by legislation on the operation of SAE passed in the Greek parliament on July 26, 2006.

The Regional Coordinating Council was elected in the 1st Canada Region Convention held in Toronto on September 29 through October 1, 2006:

Costas Menegakis
Canada Regional Coordinator

John Dagonas
Member, Canada Region Coordinating Council

Dr. Athanasios Fousias
Member, Canada Region Coordinating Council

John Theodosopoulos
Member, Canada Region Coordinating Council

Spyros Volonakis
Member, Canada Region Coordinating Council

SAE Canada Region Priorities:

• Improve cooperation and communication between Greek Organizations in Canada and abroad
• Establish Regional Networks
• Manage Greek-speaking education problems in Canada
• Record distinguished Greeks and Philhellenes

Improvement of cooperation and communication between the Greek organizations in Canada and abroad

The SAE Canada Region success and the success of all SAE Regions will greatly depend on the Coordinating Councils’ ability to develop cooperation relations in two fronts:

- Domestically, with all Greek community institutions operating in the Region without exceptions or discrimination. The SAE Canada Coordinating Council intends to develop just and direct relations with all Greek Canadian community institutions and Greek diplomatic and consulate authorities, future Regional Networks, and all organizations in the Region that have as a goal the preservation and promotion of the Greek culture, language and Christian Orthodox Faith.

- Abroad, through the establishment of communication channels between Regional Coordinating Councils to exchange information and draw up strategies with the aim of successfully conveying to the Greek government all issues of great concern to the Greeks abroad.

Our goal is to reach and implement solutions with substantive and direct results. The SAE Canada Region Coordinating Council proceeds with the establishment of close relations with the SAE Presiding Board, the Regional Coordinating Councils, the Foreign Ministry, the Parliament’s Special Permanent Committee on Greeks Abroad, the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad and all government institutions in Greece involved with issues of direct interest for the Greeks abroad.

Establishment of Regional Networks

The SAE Canada Region pays special attention to the young and has proceeded with the establishment of a Youth Network. Our goal is to create the right prospects contributing to the establishment of a Network that will be representative, its members will be directly interested in it and have the necessary knowledge for the network’s good and successful operation.

The Youth Network comprises University and College Student Unions, organized Greek Canadian youth in major urban centers and the leadership of the Christian Youth.

The SAE Canada Region Youth Network founding assembly is scheduled for early March 2008.

Management of Greek-speaking Education problems

We believe that the problems the Greek-speaking education is facing in Canada are caused by:

- Small number of students and lack of interest in Greek studies.

- Shortage of or inadequate aids for the teaching of Greek as a second or third language in addition to the lack of special education programmes adjusted to the Region’s needs.

- Reduced funding for the operation and preservation of Greek Studies programmes and inadequate financial support by the competent authorities.

The SAE Canada Regional Coordinating Council will continue to work for the solution of the problems mentioned in cooperation with the competent authorities, the Greek Consulate Education Coordinator Offices in particular.

Record distinguished Greeks and Philhellenes

The strength of Hellenism in Canada depends on the progress made by the Greeks in Canada. Greek men and women across the country have excelled in politics, local government, the academic sector, science, arts and commerce.

Keeping records of distinguished Greeks and Philhellenes will contribute to becoming stronger and more effective, help us bring them closer to us, honor them for their service to the community and their work and utilize them for the common good.

Action / Initiatives:

Actions undertaken since early 2007, when the SAE Canada Coordinator and the Coordinating Council members took office:

1. Organize and operate new office.
2. Register Region members.
3. Vote of Overseas Greeks.
3. Presidential Decree.
4. Form Networks (Youth, Culture, Business)
5. Greek-speaking Education
6. Meetings (Presiding Board and Coordinating Council)
7. Emergency management (fundraisers for fire victims in Greece)
8. Coordinate Omogeneia to promote Greek national issues
9. Inform Omogeneia, announcements.
10.Website construction

Conclusions:

The updating of the traditional organizational structure of Greek community organizations is imperative to reflect the interests and expectations of young Greek Canadians. SAE can help toward this direction while, at the same time, provide an opportunity for a more meaningful Greek State intervention in the Greek Diaspora.

The recent SAE renewal and the establishment of the SAE Canada Region has given a boost and impetus to the institution and the Greek Canadians, who feel satisfied and proud of the way the Greek State acknowledges their great service and work.

The SAE Canada Region Coordinating Council makes every effort to coordinate its activities and work, convey the concerns of the Greek Canadians to Greece and try to find solutions to the problems of Hellenism in Canada.