Estonian spirit and determination inspires enthusiastic support for KESKUS
A longstanding love of animals and a strong entrepreneurial spirit propelled Erik and Sandra Küttis to turn their vision into a successful enterprise.
Now, with their $100,000 Kalevipoja Laud donation to KESKUS International Estonian Centre’s Capital Campaign, they are able to help another vision become a reality: a dynamic new home for the Estonian community.
“We are so proud and excited to be involved in this campaign,” Erik said. “It is the way forward to ensure we have a sustainable future for the next generation.”
The couple have a son Nikolas, 23, and a daughter Kira, 21 and live in St. Agatha, a community just outside Waterloo. Their children are proud of their Estonian heritage and look forward to connecting with the new centre. The family has traveled together to Estonia and welcomed many Estonian visitors to their home.
“A new state-of the-art facility is the next step and crucial in keeping our heritage alive outside of Estonia. A cultural center with a business accelerator perfectly reflects who we are. Estonians are world leaders in technology while also being foremost in cultural activities such as choral music and folk dancing. That amazing duality is what KESKUS is all about!”
The couple are passionate about encouraging others to step forward.
“The decision to build KESKUS has been made, and now everyone must come on board, regardless of past opinions,” Erik says. “It is incumbent upon all Estonians, not only in Canada, but around the world, to support the project.”
Erik and Sandra are owners of TLC Pet Food. Erik, a dedicated pet owner, started the business in 1994 after becoming frustrated with the level of quality in commercial pet foods. In true Estonian style, he thought of a better way. He worked with top nutritionists to create a new formula and, in order to make the business viable, became the first pet food company to offer online ordering direct to the customer. The business flourished, and their dog and cat products are now shipped across North America.
Erik’s parents Jaan and Katrin Küttis were both born in Estonia and eventually settled in Kitchener after they came to Canada. He recalls how they would drive him and his brother Andre every Saturday morning to participate in Kalev Scouts at the Estonian house.
“Even though we lived in Kitchener, over an hour away, this cultural connection was important to the family,” he recalls.
Erik also attended Jõekääru summer camp every year from the age of four to 15 and went to scout camp at Kotkajärve as well.
“It is the blood, sweat and tears of the previous generation that we are honouring with our donation. Imagine the dedication it took for that group of immigrants to build the foundation that we have today - the Estonian House, three camps with acres of land, the schools, credit union, newspapers and food businesses,” he said. “Now it is our turn to pick up the torch to honour them and build for the future!”
“We are grateful to play our small part and send a huge thank you to the boards and community leaders who continue to guide this project.”
Get involved and help support our future
Are you interested in helping build this spectacular new home for the global Estonian community? Please join our growing list of capital campaign donors! The International Estonian Centre’s donor categories are Kalevipoja Laud for gifts over $100,000 (including naming rights for specific areas), Viru Vanemad for gifts over $10,000, and Kungla Rahvas for gifts up to $10,000. Stay tuned for the launch of the Kungla Rahvas campaign in 2021.
Donations may be made as a family gift, or in honour of an individual or family. All Canadian and U.S. donations will be issued a tax receipt.
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DIGITAL Estonian Life No. 20 - May 20, 2022