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Minister for Slovenians Abroad completes eventful tour of Canada

Ottawa/Toronto/Vancouver, 4 April - Minister for Slovenians Abroad Helena Jaklitsch wrapped up a busy week-long tour of the Slovenian communities in Canada in British Columbia at the weekend, having previously visited Toronto and Ottawa in Ontario.

Minister for Slovenians Abroad Helena Jaklitsch.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA
File photo

Canadian, Slovenian and EU flags.
Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA

This Saturday the minister visited the Slovenian association in Vancouver, set up by Slovenians living there in 1958 to socialise and preserve Slovenian language and traditions.

On Friday she visited Whistler, the ski resort that is home to a small Slovenian community. Several Slovenians also work there seasonally as skiing teachers, a release from Jaklitsch's office said.

"Every time we meet our compatriots across the world we head home richer. Richer for the experience of love for the Slovenian identity, Slovenia, Slovenian culture, language, for what we are," the minister was quoted as saying in a sentiment that was the recurring theme of her tour.

She thanked Canadian Slovenians for handing down the Slovenian heritage to younger generations as well as for their exceptional engagement thirty years ago in support of Slovenia's independence and international recognition.

Her office still keeps one of the hand-sewn flags that was flown Toronto at the time.

The minister started her tour the previous Saturday in Ontario, which is home to the biggest Slovenian community. The oldest Slovenian association in the country, Bled, was founded in 1933 as part of a mutual insurer set up to support the members, who worked in the mines, in case of injury or death.

More than 30 associations in the province are coordinated by the All-Slovenian Cultural Committee (VSKO) in Toronto, which has been issuing for decades a publication and radio show called Voice of Canadian Slovenians and is also seeking to set up Slovenian language teaching at the University of Toronto.

In Toronto, the minister visited VSKO and Večerni Zvon, one of the oldest Slovenian associations in the area most of whose members are originally from Prekmurje.

Accompanied by Slovenian Ambassador Andrej Rode, Jaklitsch also visited a care home in South Ontario where most residents are of Slovenian descent. She also met representatives of the Slovenian School, which has been operational for more than 60 years.

The minister also met businessmen of Slovenian descent, visiting Nahanni Steel and Bigfoot door, two among the successful companies run by Canadian Slovenians. She met members of the Slovenian-Canadian Chamber of Commerce and took part in a reception hosted by Honorary Consul in Toronto John Doma.

In her address, the minister underscored the importance of cherishing ties between Slovenians worldwide and in particular economic cooperation.

The minister also visited Slovenians and their associations in the capital Ottawa and in Hamilton, where she also stopped by at the Slovenian school and at Flat Rock Cellars, the wine company owned by Slovenians.

In the capital Ottawa, the minister met Apostolic Nuncio to Canada Ivan Jurkovič and visited a Slovenian dance association. She also took part in an virtual meeting organised by the Slovenian Embassy with representatives of Slovenian associations in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia.

The representatives reported about their activities and plans for the future, agreeing to resume such meetings in the future to get to know each other. They were happy to be able to talk with the minister.

Jaklitsch also attended a reception hosted by the Slovenian Embassy in Ottawa at which Ambassador Andrej Gregor Rode presented Ervin Bogomir Podgoršak, a pioneer in medical physics, with a decoration of behalf of President Borut Pahor for his research work and contribution to Slovenia's international reputation.

© STA, 2022