Members of the Ottawa and Montreal Estonian Societies met at the future Estonian Embassy building in Ottawa on June 2 to celebrate Estonia’s 135th Flag Day and to learn of the latest developments with the International Estonian Centre (IEC) project.
“Both the International Estonian Centre development in Toronto and the Estonian Embassy building renovations here in Ottawa are symbols of renewal and of commitment to an Estonian presence in Canada,” enthused Ambassador Lukk as he welcomed everyone to Estonia’s future home in Ottawa.
Ottawa’s future Estonian Embassy building, under heritage protection, was built in 1875 and will undergo a complete gutting, aiming to open its doors in 2020.
Ambassador Lukk further echoed the IEC vision statement that the IEC will be a vibrant gathering place for Estonians of all generations and backgrounds to connect, celebrate, and share our culture and achievements with each other and the world.
The author of the IEC capital campaign feasibility study (which results were presented last April, see the news archive at www.estoniancentre.ca for further details) surveyed a meaningful sample population of Estonians outside of Toronto. Those respondents thought that it made sense for Toronto to take on the role of being the hub for the Estonian diaspora. 80% of those respondents were willing to contribute to IEC’s capital campaign.
Bearing out that finding was the large turnout to the Ottawa event, generously catered by Ülle Veltmann. Tõnu Onu and Karl Raudsepp, presidents of the Ottawa and Montreal Estonian societies, respectively, were pleased with the level of interest.
“Our members may not use the new Centre every week, but it will be the natural place to meet up and attend events when in Toronto,” said Tõnu. Karl agreed, saying “Montreal Estonians currently hold events in the Estonian church but maintaining this facility is becoming increasingly more difficult. We are looking for ways to sustain our own Estonian footprint in Montreal. A new and modern Centre buoys all Estonians and will be a source of great pride. We will have more and more reason to come to Toronto.”
Three-time Governor-General award winning architect Alar Kongats presented the IEC project to the attentive audience.
“I’m grateful to hear all about the Centre from those who are leading the project,” noted Merike Olo, an Ottawa resident. “The design is warm and inviting and now I’ll have one more reason - a big reason! - to return to Toronto more often.”
Paul Läänemets, also an Ottawa resident, was pleased to have the project described in detail and summed up the event by saying, “Thanks very much to the project team for including Ottawa and the surrounding area in their consultations!”
Keep in touch and find out what’s happening!
• Come to a party on June 7! The parking lot at 9 Madison Avenue, site of the new IEC, will be the site of a wonderful outdoor party. Join us from 5.30 – 7.30 p.m. to celebrate the ongoing transformation of this space into our new home. There will be folk dancing by Kungla rahvatants!
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