Canadians of Estonian heritage will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of Estonian independence and Estonian Heritage Day in Toronto on Saturday, February 24th, 2018 at Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square. Over 700 people are expected to attend the flag raising ceremony at City Hall, which will also feature performances from renowned local Estonian choirs.
Estoniadeclared its independence on February 24th, 1918. The country’s rapid development made it a regional economic leader and one of the most progressive European nations at the time. In 1939, after the Nazis and Soviets signed a pact to coordinate the start of the World War II, Estonia was illegally occupied by the Soviet Union and later by Nazi Germany, both of which, used violence, deportations and arbitrary arrests to repress the nation’s independence.
In the Fall of 1944, over 100,000 Estonians fled the terrifying return of Soviet occupying forces. Many risked crossing the stormy Baltic Sea to Sweden, while others walked thousands of kilometers south, arriving at refugee camps in Western Europe. In the early 1950’s thousands immigrated to Canada, where they made important contributions towards building the Canada we know today.
“Estonians of Canadian heritage are proud of the tenacity and perseverance of their ancestors and countrymen in their fight for freedom, democracy and independence,” said Marcus Kolga, President of the Estonian Central Council in Canada. “We’re also very proud of our community in Canada and the important contributions we’ve made here, and we’re honoured that the City of Toronto and the CN Tower will be joining our celebrations on February 24th, by lighting the CN Tower and Toronto city sign in Estonia’s national colours: blue, black and white.”
The Estonian flag raising ceremony will begin at 10:30am on Saturday, February 24th at Nathan Phillips Square at Toronto’s City Hall and the lighting of the CN Tower and Toronto sign, will happen that same evening. The event is being organized and hosted by the Estonian Central Council in Canada, The Toronto Estonian Society and the Estonian Honourary Consul in Canada.
The Estonian Central Council in Canada represents all Canadians of Estonian heritage and is elected every four years in national elections.