1990-91, ECC/EKN sent eight elected delegates to the Congress of Estonia, an innovative grassroots parliament, established in Estonia as part of the process of regaining independence.
Recognizing the tremendous potential for Estonia, as well as the challenges faced by Estonians abroad in maintaining language and culture, ECC/EKN launched an initiative for greater inclusion and representation of the diaspora in Estonian governmental affairs, at its general assembly in fall 2017. The following spring, ECC/EKN’s ambitious goals were adopted by the Estonian World Council at its annual meeting in Tallinn. ECC/EKN and its Swedish counterpart, Rootsi Eestlaste Liit (REL), led a collaborative effort towards meeting these goals with Estonian Justice Minister Urmas Reinsalu, and following Estonia’s elections in March 2019, the new Minister of Population, Riina Solman.
In fall 2018, ECC/EKN and REL led an initiative to register Tallinn based not-for-profit NGO Global Estonians. Its primary goal is to develop broad-based cooperation and engagement between the Estonian government and Estonians abroad. Membership consists of established diaspora central organizations, including the Estonian World Council. Its newest member is the Estonian Worldwide Youth Network.
During Esto 2019, ECC/EKN and REL leadership were instrumental in organizing a National Congress in Tallinn under the auspices of the Estonian World Council. Presenters included President Kersti Kaljulaid, Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu, Population Minister Riina Solman, current Finance Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus and leadership from the State Chancellery, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The newfound collaboration between Estonia’s government and diaspora central organizations culminated in the establishment of the Global Estonian Advisory Committee, in fall 2019. ECC/EKN had two representatives, Marcus Kolga and Reet Marten Sehr, on the founding committee. In 2021, ECC/EKN president Kairi Taul Hemingway replaced Marcus Kolga.
Chaired by minister Riina Solman, the advisory board together with various ministries and expert subcommittees developed the new Global Estonian program (Üleilmse Eestluse Programm), which is scheduled to be implemented this coming fall, 2021. The program replaces the Compatriots Program (Rahvuskaaslaste program) established in 2004, which has supported Estonians abroad in maintaining Estonian language and preserving culture and identity.
A priority goal for ECC/EKN has been the development of a common information sharing platform for Estonians around the world. The Global Estonian website developed by volunteers - ECC/EKN president emeritus Marcus Kolga and Canadian-Estonian Tarmo Saks – has been gifted to and adopted by the Estonian government through the Estonian Integration Foundation as the official online platform for Global Estonians. The platform maps out all Estonian organizations, events and groups around the world, and produces a weekly Global Estonian report for the Estonian state broadcaster ERR.
Estonia has a new government, and the Global Estonian program will continue to develop and grow in its new home in the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ECC/EKN continues to lead by initiating new projects and working collaboratively with the Estonian government, Global Estonians, Estonian World Council and diaspora communities.
ECC/EKN is a strong advocate for including our diverse younger generations and communities across Canada in this process and future endeavours, in order for more voices to be heard.
ECC/EKN has also supported major Canadian policy initiatives, including the development and passage of Magnitsky human rights legislation, which was led in Canada by former ECC/EKN president, Marcus Kolga.
ECC/EKN has also supported and led efforts to combat Russian government information warfare targeting our history and community. By promoting intolerance and hate towards the Baltic communities, the Russian government and its proxies in Canada seek to delegitimize our status as Canadians, and as refugees who fled Soviet terror.
Closer to home
ECC/EKN spent nearly a year lobbying provincial and municipal governments to achieve property tax status for Jõekääru, Estonian children’s summer camp, ultimately saving the camp upwards of hundreds of thousands in future tax savings and helping secure the future of the camp for generations to come.
Major events, such as the 2019 Black Ribbon Day conference, at which Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Bob Rae, and Garry Kasparov spoke were covered widely in Canadian media.
In fall 2020, ECC/EKN organized an online forum with Minister Solman to introduce the Üleilmse Eestluse Programm to leaders of Canadian Estonian community organizations.
In spring 2021, ECC/EKN organized a 2nd online forum to provide an update on the Üleilmse Eestluse Programm from Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs advisor Keit Speigel, and a presentation by Estonian Integration Foundation on how to access and post diaspora community events on the globalestonian.com website https://globalestonian.com/en.