(Reflections on creative expressions of Estonian-Canadian identity and community)
My maternal grandmother, Helen Rammo (née Elena Haljaste (Grünberg)), was a storyteller, whether she knew it or not.
Her father, Johann Bernhard Haljaste, was a colonel in the Estonian military and the head of engineering service in the 22nd Estonian Territorial Corps. On June 14th, 1941, during the infamous June deportations, he was seized by the Red Army due to his outspoken political opposition of the Stalinist regime and notoriety as an Estonian nationalist; he died the following year as a political prisoner in Norillag, Norilsk Corrective Labour Camp. My great grandfather’s capture, and the subsequent occupation of Estonia by the Soviets, made refugees of the family he was forced to leave behind. Familial records tell me that my grandmother, her brother, and their mother immigrated to Canada in 1949, after eight years in displaced persons camps around Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. The rest is history. My grandparents fell in love and birthed a daughter, who eventually birthed another daughter. That’s me.
I know all this not only through photographs, historic...
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