On Sunday, May 1st, 2022, the Estonian Central Council in Canada (ECC) hosted the 4th overall virtual conference for Canadian-Estonian organizations, with participants joining from Estonia and various locations across Canada. The event was held over the Zoom platform in both Estonian and English languages, and offered the opportunity for individuals and groups to become acquainted with the latest developments regarding the so-called Global Estonia program, as well as get to know and participate in discussion with other Estonian organizations and their members found in Canada. The purpose of the current article is to summarize and reflect on the ideas presented at this conference.
The proceedings began with an opening statement from Kairi Taul Hemingway, President of the ECC, who commented that the aim of the conference was to allow for its participants to make connections across all of Canada, as well as learn about the opportunities or support offered to Canadian-Estonian groups by organizations situated in Estonia. Hemingway suggested that participants engage with the content of the conference while keeping in mind keywords such as “learning,” “collaboration,” “sharing,” “brainstorming,” and so on.
Estonian-Canadian relations and the situation in Ukraine
The official program continued with Toomas Lukk, the Estonian Ambassador to Canada. The first point that Lukk made was that Estonia and Canada have had good relations for three decades now and stand united as likeminded countries, with foreign policy being one of their many commonalities, as evidenced by the fact that both the Riigikogu and the House of Commons defined Russian activity in Ukraine as genocide. Furthermore, Canada is allegedly taking inspiration from the many digital and cybersecurity programs innovated by Estonia.
Lukk emphasized that Estonia remains protected, and that the West as a whole—and Canada in particular—has the strategic goal of making sure that Russia does not win the war, entailing that they will no longer be allowed to perpetuate a history of aggression and bullying towards their neighbours, nor feed this ideology to younger generations. Lukk described the solidarity holding between the two countries of Estonia and Canada as one that both are determined to continue.
The next speaker up was Reet Marten Sehr, Vice-President of the ECC. Sehr reiterated the importance of relations on the national level between Estonia and Canada and the latter’s importance in general, given the current presence of Canadian troops in Latvia, and Canada’s membership in organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Arctic Council. Sehr also spoke briefly about two organizations of which she is member: the Estonian World Council (ÜEKN) and the Global Estonian NGO.
Marcus Kolga, President Emeritus of the ECC and the current President of the Central and Eastern European Council in Canada (CEEC), followed Sehr by describing some of the work that the CEEC, the ECC, and other groups and individuals have been involved in recently, as relates to the Ukrainian situation. The role of the CEEC, explained Kolga, is to coordinate between different communities and inquire about their needs, which in the current times primarily means communicating with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC).
While the Republic of Estonia has been a leader in terms of, for example, donating munitions to Ukraine, in Canada, support has come in the form of youth concerts, financial donations, fundraisers, offers to receive and house refugees, photography exhibitions, advocacy work (in the media and amongst provincial and federal governments, particularly Global Affairs Canada), action proposals, and so forth. One success was when, alongside the UCC, the CEEC successfully lobbied the Canadian government for the sanctioning of Roman Abramovich, considered Vladimir Putin’s top oligarch and estimated to have over two billion dollars stashed in Canada.
A central task for the CEEC, according to Kolga, is to work with the media, local communities, and Members of Parliament in order to mitigate the infowar being pursued by Russia. In the Canadian context, the propaganda or slander being applied to Ukrainian, Baltic, and other Eastern European communities—as well as their respective homelands—is the narrative that Ukraine and other places were, and are, in need of “denazification.” As Kolga noted, the nazi narrative rises even when there is no evidence of nazism, and it is therefore of central importance to explain why Russia uses such narratives in the first place. On May 9th, Russians celebrate so-called Victory Day, which in essence constitutes a day dedicated to promoting historical propaganda and denying their crimes and occupations; Kolga suggested to stand with Ukraine by instead observing Europe Day on the weekend prior.
Thanks to co-efforts of the EFC and the CEEC, which included sending letters to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, television channels considered as transmitters of Russian propaganda were pulled from the listings offered by Rogers and Bell. However, more of these types of channels—which perpetuate the nazi narrative, thereby potentially radicalizing members of the Russian-speaking community, and consequently setting the stage for a rise in anti-Ukrainian hate crimes—exist, and the CEEC, Kolga said, is actively working to have them removed from television cable and satellite networks. On this point, Lukk jumped in to comment that the most important message being sent out is that the communist regime was no better than the fascist one, and that Putin is in essence attempting to reinstate the Soviet Union, of which the collapse he considers a geopolitical catastrophe.
The next three presenters were all involved in the Global Estonia program and spoke on its behalf. Kadri Linnas, Adviser in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, began her segment with a simple question pertaining to identity, of which the answer is far less simple: When it comes to an attendee of the conference, is it more accurate to speak of a kanada eestlane (Canadian-Estonian) or an eesti kanadalane (Estonian-Canadian)? Linnas further remarked that the terminology of üleilmne eestlus is now preferred over that of väliseestlus, and that the latter is currently being reserved for historical usage, for example, in discussions pertaining to the Estonian escapees, artworks, publications, and so on which were more or less the direct products of the events of World War II. Since the Estonian diaspora has transformed in fundamental ways, Linnas noted, there is the subsequent need to change how it is spoken about, too.
Keit Spiegel, also an Adviser in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, followed Linnas by giving a brief overview of the history, nature, and objectives of the project. Under the auspices of the Ministry of the Interior, the development of the action plan began in earnest in 2019, and is currently under the leadership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who, alongside various “foreign missions,” are the plan’s main responsible parties. As regards this program, Spiegel specified that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs works in conjunction with various external agencies and Estonian institutions, as well as other Ministries (such as the Ministry of Education and Research of Estonia and the Ministry of Culture of Estonia). When it comes to its formation and evolution, over the years work groups dedicated to various topics were formed in Estonian communities across the world, many of them from Canada, for the purpose of being involved in a collaborative process facilitating the development of the plan.
Spiegel emphasized that the operations of the entire program are the result of tight cooperation between partners including diasporic Estonian communities, various Ministries, and other (Estonian) organizations. Or, in the words written on one of the presentation slides: “The field of Estonian diaspora is horizontal and the precondition for its effective functioning is good cooperation with other state agencies and the third sector, as well as a strong partnership with global Estonian communities.”
Spiegel then demonstrated that the “Global Estonian diaspora action plan 2022-2025”—as the result of this cooperation is called—is predicated on what she referred to as three pillars, that is, it is concerned with carrying out three main objectives, or following three main directions. The first pillar, objective, or direction of the action plan involves helping Estonians located outside of Estonia carry on and also develop the Estonian identity, which includes encouraging participation in Estonian social and cultural life in Canada and other areas abroad. Consequently, people who support and value Estonia outside of the country proper will play a role in shaping a positive image of Estonia in the wider world, introducing its culture, promoting its economy, and influencing its international relations (diplomacy).
The second pillar of the action plan entails involving the worldwide Estonian community in the life and development of Estonian society, promoting cooperation between internal and external actors, or strengthening pre-existing ties between Estonia and the Estonian community living abroad. In other words, the second pillar concerns global Estonian networking. Practically speaking, this focus on the importance of networking means expanding the services offered by Estonia to diasporic Estonians (and also friends of Estonia, as well as so-called foreign missions or välisesindused), and making sure they are of quality, enabling the increased contribution of abroad-Estonians and/or pro-Estonians to the development of Estonian society.
Examples of such services include the provision of consular services, support programs for independent initiatives or pilot projects, and scholarships (for instance, for internship or practicum programs within Estonia). Spiegel noted that the last example especially demonstrates that the target group of the general action plan is Estonian youth. That is, offering the opportunity for young Estonians abroad to apply for internships within Estonia and within their respective fields creates concrete links between them and Estonia; supporting their activities entails that these links are viewed positively, which in the future may determine the genesis of further networks and collaborations. It was further reported that interest in the internship program was large and that the first internships—up to as many as twenty applications could qualify after they have been vetted—will actually take place in the spring and summer of this year.
As Spiegel also showed, there are many different institutions—offering many different competitions, grants, and/or scholarships on a yearly basis for which it is possible to apply—associated with the Global Estonian program. These include the Estonian Research Council, the National Archives of Estonia, the Integration Foundation, the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, and the National Foundation of Civil Society. Paraphrasing: “Research the possibilities relevant to your specific organization, and if at first you do not succeed, try again the next year,” Spiegel suggested. While there is a complicated funding system behind the applications, the relevant groups are actively working to make the application rounds more easily accessible to all organizations, including making them more inclusive for non-Estonian speakers.
The possibilities offered to cultural societies include guaranteeing expanded opportunities as regards Estonian-language teaching or learning, the funding of local Estonian community publications, the preservation of the material and intellectual cultural heritage of Estonia, and other endeavours that help preserve, develop, and perpetuate the eesti meel, or play a part in the continued viability of Estonian culture outside of the Republic proper. Also piece of this pillar is the construction and design of a shared and diverse information and communication space (Globalestonian.com) with channels allowing for the exchange of information between the Estonian state and Estonian communities across the globe.
As Spiegel specified, the development of this space-in-common included the establishment of a centralized newsletter platform for the state to share crucial informations. As such, the Integration Foundation, Ministry of Culture, and/or Ministry of Foreign Affairs, amongst other actors, are active on it daily. On this basis, members of different communities are able to access practical information as regards, for example, programs supporting language camps for young Estonians living abroad and Estonian events occurring outside of Estonia, as well as interesting stories and human interest pieces related to Estonia and/or Estonians.
The third and final pillar of the action plan entails welcoming those who wish to return to Estonia, or those who come to Estonia and stay there for the first time, and supporting them to the necessary extent as regards their re-adaptation—or simply adaptation, if they have not lived there before—to Estonian life. Involved in this objective, for example, is the development of a “national return support scheme,” the development and implementation of counselling services (such as returnee support meetings or general “compatriots counselling”), and so on.
The third and final presenter linked to the Global Estonia program was Tarmo Saks, who spoke about the Global Estonian website (i.e., the “compatriots web portal”), which was defined in the following way: “Global Estonian is an online global community and network for Estonians and friends of Estonians around the world.” Saks brought out the three goals of the website: (1) “Provide a common and unified information space” for Estonians abroad; (2) “Contribute to the preservation and growth of the global Estonian community”; and (3) “Allow users to connect and network with Estonian organizations around the world.”
Saks—the Administrator of the site—explained that Global Estonian was a gift from Kolga to the Integration Foundation during the year celebrating the one-hundredth anniversary of Estonian Independence; Kolga had been developing the idea since 2011, and the Integration Foundation has fully managed the site since 2019. As Saks explained, the Integration Foundation had created a new department for compatriots, collecting and sharing information relevant to Estonians abroad: language camp possibilities, financial support for returnees, the potential for counselling and support meetings, application rounds for cultural societies, etc.
As things progressed, the Global Estonian site became more than just a database of Estonian organizations, articles of news, or activities and/or events, broadening its scope to include evermore information oriented towards different groups and their various interests, which involved also expanding its collaboration to include different Estonian Ministries, the Government Office, and other teams. In conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Global Estonian puts out the aforementioned monthly newsletter that is archived and is possible to subscribe to, generally appearing in the first or second week of the month. Later on in the conference, contributing to this newsletter was also recommended (Linnas noted that stories about “interesting” Estonians were always the biggest hits, and suggested sending in possible articles by the tenth of the month).
In its early days, Global Estonian was simply an online communication network that allowed for Estonians and Estophiles to describe their organizations in terms of who they are, where they are located, and what they do. The website thus served as a place to come do data searches on worldwide Estonian groups, and Saks was responsible for uploading and updating the profiles—adding new groups, adding new information, and fixing all that was outdated—as relevant messages were forwarded to him by organizational representatives or those in the know.
Saks recommended visiting the website and contacting him with any feedback or comments. As he explained, the portal is a constant work in progress, offering information on governmental services and services offered by different foundations, amongst other things. With the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the software behind the website is being updated, and in an instance of serendipity, the winning bidder for the software update job was an Estonian e-residency company founded by a handful of Ukrainian developers, who are now actively working on the project.
The importance of the software update, according to Saks, is not just to improve the quality of the site on mobile devices, but to improve the functionality, usability, and searchability of the website’s interactive map. That is, the Global Estonian website features a browsable map of Estonian communities and organizations around the world; even now, there is the possibility to explore, for instance, Australian Estonian communities and forge immediate connections. As it stands, information may be emailed to Saks, who is able to link any given organization to the map; in the future, the new updated version of the site will allow people to further interface and personalize by entering and adding their own information as concerns groups, events, etc.
Once Saks completed his presentation, the floor was opened to questions and comments. Kolga encouraged all organizations to contribute their information to the site, especially those without their own webpages, as the site constitutes an important tool with the ability to bring the global Estonian community together. Furthermore, Estonian Public Broadcasting has a regular section devoted to Global Estonian, which is contributed to by Saks; therefore, news added to the Global Estonian website also gets featured in Estonian national media, via newsletters, for example. Kolga wrapped up by stating that it is time to show the Estonians living in Estonia all the great things that their compatriots are doing in Canada and beyond.
Following Kolga, Lukk also encouraged communities to use the support programs, and reiterated that even if an application for whatever cultural event or language-teaching course does not get funded, it is important to at least try. Lukk also speculated on the future of the site, noting that it is of utmost importance to be able to reach every Estonian in the world, but the problem of how to do it remains.
In the future, Lukk pondered, would it be possible to add governmental officials outside of Estonia with Estonian backgrounds to the site? How much can the map, for example, be complicated or elaborated upon? Could the local governments of places such as Muhu and Hiiumaa—or by extension, any small village or parish in Estonia—be linked to the map? Could this be done also as regards specific eras, not necessarily the present? The point that Lukk was making is that further globalized Estonian networking possibilities are endless and contain much potential for engaging communities, and that the Global Estonian site is central to this endeavouring.
As the official program came to a close, Hemingway organized conference participants into small groups and placed them into different Zoom breakout rooms, for the purpose of sharing ideas on the topic of how to preserve and strengthen the Canadian-Estonian identity. Of course, the aim was also to have different individuals get to know each other and introduce their specific organizations, whether these be folk dancing groups, Estonian schools, archival groups, or whatever.
Discussion was facilitated by two questions given to participants beforehand: (I) “How can Estonian organizations/communities across Canada continue to support each other, learn from each other, share resources/ideas, and so on?” and (II) “What does your organization/community want/need from Estonia to help you in your organization’s objectives (i.e., monetary funding, language acquisition programs/materials, exchange programs, global awareness, information share, and so forth)?”
The group that I was placed into was a mix of new and familiar faces. The organizations represented were the Alberta Estonian Heritage Society, the Society of Estonian Artists in Toronto, the Vancouver Estonian School, the St. Peter’s Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Vancouver, and the group that I was representing, the Society for the Advancement of Estonian Studies in Canada (Vancouver-based).
In what was a very friendly atmosphere, all participants were able to introduce and comment on their specific groups, contribute to the general discussion as outlined by the questions and topic of the conference, and even give a brief overview of the local Estonian flavour found in their particular area, amongst other things. As the conference organizers intended, ideas were exchanged and contacts were established; alongside anecdotes, mutual acquaintances and similar challenges and/or interests formed the basis of many conversations.
Once their time limit was exceeded, the breakout rooms closed and everybody returned to the wider conference, wherein Hemingway and Sehr asked a representative of each individual session to give a report on what was discussed and what ideas had been generated. On the basis of these overviews, as well as other comments made over the course of the conference, it is possible to identify various themes that characterized the conference.
One of the themes extractable from the various discussions was that of space. For example, the size of Canada entails problems in the formalization and acquisition of official documents; the fact of having to give fingerprints in-person involves actual physical travel over potentially quite lengthy distances. Lukk also noted the importance of infrastructure in sustaining Estonian communities and identities, whether one is discussing Estonian settlements in Alberta, the KESKUS International Estonian Centre in Toronto, the Estonian Embassy in Ottawa, or any other space relevant to Canadian Estonians.
In his presentation during the official program, Lukk mentioned that one of the strengths of the Canadian-Estonian community lies in numbers: Counting around 25 000 people, Canadian Estonians taken together would constitute a city bigger than Viljandi, population-wise. Another point made by Lukk represents the theme of time: For Lukk, Estonians in Canada represent a continuous and sustainable force, exemplified by Alberta Estonians who have roots dating back as far as seven generations, but still identify as Estonian.
Another identifiable theme was that of levels. That is, Estonian organizations across the world come in many different “sizes,” from the smallest of localized groups to wider groups with emphasis on centralization such as the ECC and, at an even higher level in the organizational hierarchy, the ÜEKN. There was also a leitmotif of diversity: Worldwide Estonian organizations also come in various “shapes,” that is, they are dedicated to/oriented towards a wide array of different objects or processes, whether these be artworks, acts of politicking, the preservation of cultural or societal materials, or any other more or less niche possibility.
Language acquisition was also a noticeable point of discussion. During her earlier presentation, while speaking about Canadian Estonians, Sehr noted that the eesti meel is not simply reducible to eesti keel, which is illustrated by the fact that even those who do not speak the Estonian language may self-identify as Estonians. For Sehr, there needs to be a better dialogue with the Estonian Education Ministry, wherein the wants and needs of young people and adults who have acquired little of the Estonian language are heard; there needs to be an understanding that language learning is a process, and that there is not one single resource, tool, or voice that should be considered the only right one.
Sehr pointed out that Estonian-language learning could be so much more than it currently is; the problem with, for instance, many Estonian-language courses offered online is that the level being taught is not appropriate to those that do not speak the language at all. When it comes to learning Estonian, Lukk mentioned that COVID-19 taught the world that online learning is nonetheless a possibility. Citing a model used in Germany, Lukk noted that classes of, say, six- to nine-year olds from all over Canada—whether in Vancouver, Albertan cities, Toronto, Halifax, or wherever—could come together in single sessions in order to jointly develop their linguistic skills; the teacher her- or himself could be teaching from Estonia.
The topic of language acquisition is organically connected to the theme of youth which also characterized the conference, as evidenced in the earlier discussion of potential youth practicums. Lukk also proposed that young Estonians in Canada who are interested in visiting Estonia should look into the so-called Tallinna Õpilasmalev program, in order to get together with other young Estonians, earn some pocket money, and enjoy the summer.
In his earlier talk, Lukk also reminded everyone that June 27th of this year is the one hundredth anniversary of the official adoption of the Estonian flag, making it one of the older national flags in the world. Whether for this occasion or for any other reason, Lukk emphasized that visiting Estonia is indeed safe, and urged people to not be scared of travelling. The reluctancy or hesitancy of many to travel, of course, is linked to the global context that inevitably informed the conference; I am, of course, talking about the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
When it comes to the former, any mention of the coronavirus was framed optimistically: People felt that, in Canada—which was considered one of the most locked-down countries in the world—as well as in other countries, life is somewhat normalizing, and this re-found stability could soon lead to in-person conferencing and networking. When it comes to the war, any mention of the Ukrainian conflict was framed in not necessarily an optimistic way, but in a resilient and “never say die” manner; any discussion of future events also inevitably included reference to continued support of Ukraine and Ukrainians.
A final theme that could be identified is that of gratitude. Ukrainian diplomats, Lukk promised, have noticed the support both moral and financial given to them by the Estonian community of Canada, as well as Estonia in general, in both word and act, whether via the visibility and non-neutral position taken by the Estonian Prime Minister, or by the fact that, per capita, Estonia stands as the number one supporter of Ukraine in the world. Kolga also noted the gratitude expressed by the UCC and the Ukrainian community, and was himself grateful for the work of the ECC, various individuals, and groups such as the Estonian Ecumenical Relief Organization.
In general, participants were grateful for the Global Estonian program, for the “special link” holding between Canada and Estonia, and also for the opportunity to come together, chat, connect, tighten up older networks, and build new relationships, even if only virtually. Gratitude extended into optimism, with people looking forward to participating in more joint Canadian-Estonian organizational conferences in the future, whether online or boots on the ground.
The entire conference, in fact, constituted an atmosphere of gratefulness and politeness; all discourse was respectful, all persons were patient and tolerant, and nobody valued efficiency over courtesy. For example, none of the few technical mishaps that occurred was met with any frustration or disdain on the part of any participant.
Following the conclusion of the conference, and over the course of the next few days, interactions with fellow Vancouverites who had also attended elicited a few more thoughts. One person mentioned that “for the first time, I felt like a global Estonian,” and the fact of increased interaction and interest holding between Vancouver, Toronto, and Estonia—and other locales, too—was seen as a positive new development. This same participant emphasized that the new feeling of inclusion or belonging-ness began to trump the former feeling of an “us versus them” binary, and expressed excitement over the databasing possibilities afforded by the Global Estonia website/map, and also the possibility to share information between different Estonian groups as concerns any topic (events, speakers, communities, etc.) all across Canada. Another individual noted their joy as regards the acknowledgment that eesti keel does not equal eesti meel, while others also expressed excitement over (and were surprised by) the many monetary possibilities offered by Global Estonia.
Thinking about the conference’s objective, topic, questions, and discussions—and piggybacking off what many others had previously stated—also led me to formulate some conclusions and ideas of my own. In more abstract terms, a centralized platform that Estonian individuals, organizations, or communities across Canada are aware of and can access is necessary for the purposes of asking questions, solving problems, promoting learning, forming higher-order networks, sharing resources and ideas, fostering supportive dialogues, and so forth. In more concrete terms, an operational and logically-organized online message board or forum—complemented by an interactive map, archived newsletter, and the (historical) profiles of all Canadian-Estonian organizations and communities, both defunct and active—composed of different (archivable) channels would fill such a role.
Such a national platform could thereafter be linked to other hypothetical platforms of Estonian organizations and communities existing at all levels in the structural hierarchy: municipal, provincial, international, continental, and global (as in Global Estonia), for example. Such a structure would allow for the streamlining of communications according to their localized relevance, while simultaneously preserving this information and making it searchable, which, by extension, would mean the preservation of everything reported as having occurred amongst diasporic Estonians (at least from a certain point onwards), thereby giving these activities a permanence also conducive to their study by future researchers.
Besides the issue of having to actually build such an infrastructure—and thereafter having to promote it and make it accessible—there is also the issue of individual motivation, initiative, or interest. That is, like an unused road, if no one bothers to report on, write about, or educate themselves on what is going on, then the existence of the infrastructure—no matter how sophisticated—is moot. In Vancouver, for instance, the boards of the many different organizations that make up its Estonian community are generally cross-pollinated by the same set of individuals; there is a disproportion holding between the activity of a smaller group of persons versus the passivity of a larger group of persons. In the end, infrastructure must go hand in hand with inspiration; maybe the inspiration is necessary for the infrastructure to come about in the first place. As such, it becomes a matter of mitigating negligence, or of not abandoning the platform once it has been established, like leaving a once-well-used road to crumble on account of its lack of use.
Beyond these idealizations, speculations, and considerations, I also began to think about the meaning of this conference in particular and the Global Estonia program in general. In the first place, there was no apparent discrimination wherein the Estonian economy took precedence over Estonian culture, or vice versa; the importance of both was equally emphasized and the two were never placed in opposition to one another. In the second place, however, both the conference and the program played up the practical or material dimension of their undertakings—for example, in the provision of social and financial capital—while underemphasizing a dimension that could be considered just as vital to these respective undertakings, namely, their symbolic or immaterial dimension.
For example: In discussing the terminological shift from väliseestlane to üleilmne eestlane, Linnas noted that one of the benefits of this change was that it would centralize information about global Estonians and make, for instance, Google searches on the topic more streamlined. This very-real practical development, however, also stands side by side with a very-real symbolic development, namely, a newfound sensitivity as regards how diasporic Estonians are spoken about. Instead of feeling “external” to Estonia, that is, diasporic Estonians are now compatriots standing on equal footing with so-called kodueestlased; a novel sense of inclusion or belonging-ness is the direct product of individual, organizational, and communal recognition and valuation on the part of the government and institutions (and hopefully the people) of Estonia, as well as other diasporic individuals, groups, and communities; and as such, it can be seen that the symbolic aspects of both the conference and the Global Estonia program are just as consequential as the practical aspects.
If someone were to agree to fund you for whatever purpose, but threw the money at your feet and told you to pick it up if you would like to use it, you might well do so, but the feeling toward your financial backer would not exactly be positive. Similarly, material support given by a ministry or an institution, but delivered in a disparaging manner, in its way already betrays or undermines the very act of giving itself. In both cases, in other words, the gratitude felt comes with a caveat. In the case of the given conference and the Global Estonia program as such, there seemed and seems to be a concerted effort to be just as supportive symbolically speaking as there is to be supportive as regards practical matters.
As mentioned earlier, the objective of this article was to reflect on the Global Estonia program and the discussions that took place during the 4th virtual conference of Canadian-Estonian organizations. There were, of course, more ideas and references involved in the workshop and its panels than what has been covered here. This overview, in other words, is not exhaustive, constitutes a representative sample of the conference, admittedly somewhat distorted by personal interpretations of the various discussions. This being the case, I would like to take the opportunity to state that I am very sorry in advance if anything in this article causes offence, betrays trust, or could be construed as an inaccuracy or misrepresentation of what was actually said or intended. In the end, the hope was to give a more or less accurate understanding of the ideas that were generated over the course of this two-hour slice of Canadian-Estonian (or Estonian-Canadian?) history.
Myself and the Society for the Advancement of Estonian Studies in Canada would like to express their gratitude to the Organizers and Presenters of this conference, and anybody else involved in its completion in any way, shape, or form: Thank You for the opportunity to partake and for all of the information and thoughts that were shared. The group as a whole would also like to thank all Participants for the engaged and fruitful discussion: Thank You each and every one and we are looking forward to the next occasion!
Eesti Elu Nr. 25 - 24. juuni 2022 DIGILEHT
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