Friday, 25 June 2021 19:00
Estonian Life No. 25 2021
Integration and collaboration are the guarantors of freedom and through them we are stronger. When we integrate, we teach others the qualities that make us unique and learn the qualities that make others unique. When we collaborate, we demonstrate to others the value we add and observe the value others add. With integration and collaboration comes friendship, and in friendship strength.
These principles are not lost on the Republic of Estonia who, since the fall the Soviet Union, has made every effort to integrate and collaborate with the West. Integrating through its membership in the UN, NATO and EU, and collaborating with the west on various projects, most notably cybersecurity. Earlier in June NATO held a summit in Brussels discussing various initiatives in which Estonia took part. As well currently, the Baltic States host NATO forces from several countries to ensure the integrity of their boarders from potential Russian aggression. Through these initiatives Estonia has safeguarded its freedom from foreign aggressors and has created an environment where Estonian culture can grow and thrive internationally.
However, Estonia learned the lesson of collaboration well before it regained independence in 1991 going back to the middle of the War of Independence in June of 1919. At that time Estonia had pushed the Red Army out of Southern Estonia and was advancing into Latvia, joining a Latvian Regiment outside of Võnnu (Cēsis in Latvian). Together with the Latvians they would defeat pro-German forces, pushing them back to the outskirts of Riga. In that moment, Estonia learned that with collaboration comes victory. A victory Estonia still commemorates every June 23rd.
Here in Canada, Canadian Estonians know the value of integration and collaboration very well. When we integrate with our local communities we showcase Estonian uniqueness, as well as, become enriched by learning the uniqueness of other cultures. For example, the Museum of Estonians Abroad or VEMU has been able to form a partnership with other local cultural organizations to form the Bloor St Culture Corridor. Not only can we exhibit Canadian Estonian and International Estonian culture there, but we are also improved by exposure to the other cultures that participate; French, Jewish, Italian, Japanese and First Nations. As we collaborate with other ethnic communities, we are able to amplify our voices on issues important to us. The passing of Magnitsky legislation and encouraging its use has been a collaborative effort involving Estonians.
Victory day, on June 23rd, is a significant holiday in Estonia and is tied to our St John Day celebrations on June 24th. On Victory Day the President lights a bonfire. From this fire many other bonfires are lit in cities across the country. Bonfires lit by the flame of independence.
On behalf of the Estonian Central Council in Canada, I wish you a wonderful Victory Day.
Elagu Eesti Vabariik!
Elagu meie eestlaste kogukond Kanadas!