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"