Season's Greetings

As the holidays are approaching, many will be gathering with family and friends to celebrate the joyous occasion of Christmas, and as the year comes to an end many will be making reflections and resolutions for the New Years. As we look behind us at all of the events that took place during the year, 2009 can be said to have been an historic one for Toronto's Macedonian community.

In February, the United Macedonians Organization of Canada celebrated its 50th anniversary celebration with the Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper as the guest of honor. The event took place at the parish hall of St. Clement of Ohrid Macedonian Orthodox Cathedral and was attended by many Macedonian Canadians and friends. During the event, Mr. Harper did not fail to recognize the significance of the occasion, as highlighted in an excerpt from his speech:

"For half a century, this Organization has worked to enrich the lives of Canadians of Macedonian descent, uniting your community and keeping alive your proud heritage and traditions. So it is with great pleasure that I offer my congratulations on the occasion of this Organization’s 50th anniversary. Since the early 19th century, Canada has been the home to a vibrant Macedonian Diaspora. Early immigrants left all they knew behind in search of a better life for their children and found both opportunity and prosperity on our shores. And Canada, in turn, has been enriched by the contributions of Macedonian Canadians. As devoted family- and community-conscious neighbours, as enthusiastic participants in the democratic process, as hardworking entrepreneurs, dedicated and accomplished professionals, each and every day, Macedonian Canadians are helping to build a stronger, better country for all of us. Not to mention padding out the front lines of a few of NHL teams in the process! But seriously, ladies and gentlemen, the same values that guide community members here in Canada are also inspiring your friends and loved ones living in Macedonia. Since Macedonia declared its independence in 1991, the country has made great strides in democratic and economic progress. And although there have been, and will yet be, challenges, along the way, Macedonia is already proving itself an important member of the European family. I know that you will all keep a close watch, all of you, on developments in Macedonia, just as you continue to contribute each and every day to building a stronger Canada. One of our great strengths as Canadians is that we learn from our history; we are not enslaved by it. We put old arguments behind us and focus on the challenges and opportunities that lie before us. And I know Macedonian-Canadians, through their hard work and commitment to community, will always be at the forefront of the effort to move this country forward."

During the months of April and May the Macedonian folk dance ensemble "Tanec" from Skopje, Macedonia celebrated its 60th anniversary by holding a North American tour, visiting the cities of Toronto, Detroit, Chicago, Columbus, Cleveland, and Cedar Grove.

In August, St. Clement of Ohrid Macedonian Orthodox Cathedral held its first annual summer festival with great success. The opening of the festival was attended by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Nikola Gruevski. Mr. Gruevski was in the country for a 4-day visit and was able to establish closer ties between the two countries by securing many bilateral agreements in Ottawa. He also met with the Macedonian communities of Toronto and Markham.

October marked the 30th anniversary of the Canadian-Macedonian Place, a retirement community complex in Toronto for Canadians of Macedonian origin. The United Macedonian Diaspora also held a Gala in Toronto, for Macedonian human rights in Greece with guest speaker Mr. Panayotis Dimitras of the Greek Helsinki Monitor. Both events were marked with great success.

In November, the Lerin Region Macedonian Cultural Association held its annual dance or "Lerinsko Oro" with guest singer Stelios Samartzis from the village of Krusodari, Lerinsko in Aegean Macedonia. There was a record attendance of over 600 guests, all attending to hear the voice of the young Macedonian singer. Also happening in November was the 50th anniversary of the Macedonian folk dance group "Ensemble Makedonka". To mark the event, a concert was held at the Ontario Science Centre as well as a banquet at St. Clement.

These were just some of the many events that took place in Toronto this year, a sign that Toronto's Macedonian community is a strong and prosperous one. This year also marked the 175th anniversary of the City of Toronto. Indeed, 2009 was a year of joyous anniversary occasions!

Now that 2010 is just around the corner, we look forward to all the events that await us in the new year. Some things that Macedonians will be looking forward to in 2010 will be the 2nd annual Global Conference of the United Macedonian Diaspora, as Toronto was chosen to be the host city. The American-Canadian Macedonian Orthodox Diocese has also chosen Toronto for the place of its annual church convention, which will be held at St. Clement of Ohrid Macedonian Orthodox Cathedral.

2010 will also mark the 100th anniversary of Sts. Cyril & Methody Church - the first church of the Macedonian community in Canada, which was founded solely by Macedonians from the Kostur and Lerin regions in 1910 in Toronto, Canada (currently located in Toronto's Regent Park). Although the church is no longer the primary place of worship for Macedonians today, it served as the "headquarters" of the Macedonian communtiy for more than half a century, until the time the Macedonian Orthodox Church declared its independence and a new parish was established under its jurisdiction (St. Clement of Ohrid). Nevertheless, Sts. Cyril & Methody forms an integral part of the history of the Macedonian Community of Toronto, along with St. Clement and all the other Macedonian churches in the region.

Finally, I would like to extend my warmest greetings to Macedonians all over the world. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and may we await the New Years with prosperity, good health, and peace.

- From the editor of "Macedonian Toronto"

MHRMI and United Macedonians Contribute to Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Toronto, Canada (December 17, 2009) -- Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) and the United Macedonians Organization of Canada (UM) participated at the December 1, 2009 roundtable discussion organized by the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. The goal of this meeting was to help develop content and exhibits for the new Museum, due to open in Winnipeg in 2012.

MHRMI and UM contributed numerous examples of oppression against Macedonians, both past and present. A focus was put on current human rights abuses against ethnic Macedonians by Greece and Bulgaria, in an attempt to raise international attention and according to the Museum's mandate, inspire a commitment to "taking action against hate and oppression".

MHRMI and UM specifically asked that:

1. Current and lesser known human rights abuses be highlighted
2. So-called "Western nations" be exposed for abusing their minorities' rights
3. Countries who are signatories to international human rights treaties be forced to abide by them.


Macedonian Theatre in Toronto

Makedonska Krvava Svadba, or Macedonian Bloody Wedding, is a national and historical play that portrayed Ottoman brutality in late 19th century Macedonia. Written by Macedonian playwright Voydan Chernodrinski in 1900, the play became a community classic for Toronto's early Macedonian community, and was performed several times each year.





Some Macedonian Hockey Memorabilia...

Macedonian Hockey Team of St. Cyril & Methody Church - 1945

Stars of the Canadian Macedonian Hockey League - 1976

Schedule 1983-84 (Click for larger view)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper a Macedonian Lions fan? - 2009

Macedonian Lions: Annual contender now looking for title

Written by Jon Brazeau
Sunday, 06 December 2009

It’s no surprise if the Macedonian Lions make the playoffs as the team has qualified every single year since the start of the tournament. The team is built around a solid core group who have put in a solid effort each and every tournament. In the past, the team has been led by George Servinis, who played five games with the Minnesota North Stars (now Dallas Stars) of the NHL in the mid-1980s. He also spent time with the Canadian men’s national team and won the NCAA title in 1985. Servinis has the tools to score as well as lay back and wait for his opportunity to pounce on a play. Helping him out on the blueline is Jamie Ritskos, who provides a strong presence in the back end, while still playing a clean game. Ritskos is an OHL veteran, having played with the Sarnia Sting and St. Michael’s Majors, and will continue to help the team in their quest for the title. The team finished third in the east division in 2007 and were in for a tough battle in the first round of the playoffs as they were set to face the Polish Hussars. While the Lions lost the game, 5-1, the Hussars wound up winning the Canadian Cup as well. In 2008, the team started off strong with a pair of impressive wins over the Maltese Falcons and Serbian White Eagles but close, one-goal losses to the Irish Gladiators and Japanese Arashi nearly put their season on ice. The team still managed to make it into the playoffs but had to face the tough Irish Shamrocks team and unfortunately it was too much. The Lions played a tough but fair game and at times looked like they would be the one en route the final instead. Always drawing a large crowd anxious to support them, perhaps one day in the near future, they will hear the loudest cheer of them all while hoisting the cup.



Sun, Dec. 27 6:45P
Macedonian Lions vs Serbian White Eagles
Chesswood Arena Pad #1

Sun, Dec. 27 8:55P
Macedonian Lions vs Polish Hussars
Chesswood Arena Pad #1

Mon, Dec. 28 6:45P
Israeli Stars of David vs Macedonian Lions
Chesswood Arena Pad #1

Mon, Dec. 28 8:55P
Chinese Ice Dragons vs Macedonian Lions
Chesswood Arena Pad #1

In Memory of Steve Stavro

Born September 27, 1927, in the village of Gabresh, in the Kostur region of Aegean Macedonia, Steve Stavro emigrated to Canada with his parents at the age of 7. They opened a butcher shop in downtown Toronto, later turning it into a grocery store. That grocery store gradually turned into a chain of stores which Steve took over from his father upon his retirement. He then proceeded to grow this chain of small stores into the gigantic warehouse style chain known as Knob Hill Farms. The store in Weston, Toronto was considered the largest supermarket in the Greater Toronto Area for 15 years.

As an avid soccer player he played center forward for the Duke of Connaught Public School soccer team, who eventually went on to become Toronto District Champions. A devout fan ever since, he was involved in the organization and management of the Continental Soccer League in 1959, the International Soccer League in 1960, the Eastern Canada Soccer League in late 1960, the United Soccer Association in 1966, and the North American Soccer League in 1968.

With the continuing success of Knob Hill Farms he decided to shift his focus into his sports interests. Venturing into thoroughbred horse racing, his Knob Hill Stables started modestly but went on to become one of the country’s most successful racing stables. From horse racing he moved into sports entertainment, becoming the majority shareholder in the Toronto Maple Leafs. He then purchased a majority interest in the National Basketball Association franchise the Toronto Raptors. With the ownership of two major sports franchises in Toronto he entered the construction industry building a state-of-the-art sports stadium to house both teams - the Air Canada Centre.

Despite phenomenal success in so many business and sporting ventures Steve never forgot his roots, and the people he worked with along the way. At the height of the success of Knob Hill Farms he visited the stores every day and knew every employee by name, and would often stop to talk.

His style has always been marked by a demand for quality. Whether a chain of grocery stores, a stable of thoroughbreds, a hockey team, a basketball team or a sports stadium he never accepted second best. From his humble beginnings, assisting his father in a grocery store, to a multi-millionaire sports team owner Steve never forgot his heritage.

On April 24, 2006, Steve Stavro died in his home after suffering a heart attack. Survived by his wife, Sally, four daughters, nine grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren, he is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery where his tomb is adorned with the insignia of many of his achievements including The Toronto Maple Leafs, The Toronto Raptors, The Order of Canada, The Knights of Malta, Order of the Masons and a statue of Alexander The Great mounted on his steed, sword thrust high in the air, a fitting metaphor for his life, riding into the future and aiming for the sky.

(Published in Macedonian Life Magazine)