To Dream The Impossible Dream



Sunday June 12th, 2011 was a good day for Friends who came together to celebrate the 5th Anniversary, of the start-up of the Slovak Canadian Heritage Museum. They gathered in the Church Hall of Sts Cyril and Methodius Parish in Mississauga, and were greeted by the friendly faces of Andrew Tapajna and Mary Sirotnik. You may ask, why celebrate it here? Well historically this was the first Slovak Parish in Toronto and they built the first Slovak Church on Claremont St. in the downtown area. This was a home away from home for many immigrants.The hall was well prepared, tables set up, the centre piece consisted of the Canadian and Slovak Flags embedded in a flower pot (hand painted by Alena Melas) and a Program of the Day was laid out. Guests could munch on a plate of crudities while wine was served individually by James Zahorchak and Dan Smith.

The crowd was warmly welcomed by the President Margaret Dvorsky who then introduced Luba Henderson as the MC for the occasion. The National Anthems were sung and Sir John V. Stephens, KHS gave the invocation and bid everyone to enjoy the prepared banquet with “Dobru Chut!”

With Helen Bucic at the helm, the luncheon was prepared by Helen Konecny; Margaret Benedik; Milka Gulej and served by Helen Uram; Anka Smolkova; and Ernestine Walters. It was delicious. Coffee, tea and Home baked goods by Milka Gulej; Mary Kampu; Lydia Repa; Peter Repka; Marienka Skrobakova; and Ann Smith were offered on the table, for everyone to enjoy, while viewing the visual presentation on the History and development of the Museum.

This was prepared and projected on the screen by Jaromir Lukac and narrated by Margaret Dvorsky. It was down memory lane for most, but especially for those who participated in Expo 67, those sitting at the table made up of former Montrealers who experienced the very beginnings. Together we have come a long way and continue to carry the torch for the future.

Along came the Junior and intermediate members of the Vychodna Slovak Dancers. Joan Becar proudly introduced the group and soon the room was filled with familiar folk songs and dances. Youth, care free, happy and full of vitality. Everyone was energized remembering their youthful participation. Then we witnessed another kind of Dancing and dancers.

These were presented as The Slovak Catholic Sokol Dancers, by their Group Leader Diane Cincar SCS. Their movements in dancing portray physical fitness. They are strict, and very deciplined, apparently they adhere to the Slogan of the Slovak Catholic Sokol which is “A sound mind in a sound Body” this made all generations aware of their own personal fitness and the importance of it. Both dance groups were a joy to watch.

The Slovak Ambassador, Mr. Milan Kollar was then introduced and everyone listened attentively to the words of Wisdom. Let us share them with you.
Ladies and Gentlemen dear Slovak Canadians!

Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.

It is my honour and privilege to be present at this festive gathering, the celebration of the 5th Anniversary of the Slovak Canadian Heritage Museum and I thank the organisers for inviting me my wife and making us part of your festivity. And I wish to commend all those who dreamed a dream about; the Slovak Canadian Heritage Museum and paid, and still pay, the price for making this dream come true. Especially Mrs. Margaret Dvorsky, who is “the godmother” of the museum, but also all of you being present here today and many others who support the museum by their donations.

On November 2010, I was honoured to attend, together with the Ottawa Slovak community, with my Czech and other diplomatic colleagues, a reception hosted by the Speaker of the Senate, the Honourable Noël Kinsella, to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between Canada and former Czecho-Slovakia.

This great moment is also a reminder, both, for the Slovak Canadian community and for Slovakia, of our responsibility to honour and cherish the Slovak Canadian Heritage, to advance a greater understanding of the Slovak heritage in Canada, and in this way to enhance Canada’s multicultural mosaic.

The list of achievements would be too long to mention only some of them here. Yet, allow me to mention just a few.

The first Canadian newspaper in Slovak language, called the Slovak Word (Slovenské slovo) appeared in Blaimore, Alberta, in 1910.Many Slovaks came to Canada in the 19th and 20th centuries in search of opportunity or a shelter and many Slovak-Canadians attained prominence in different walks of life. Canada’s dynamic community of over 65,000 Slovak-Canadians enhance the ties between the two countries and strengthen personal and family ties between Slovakia and Canada.

The most successful and the most important Slovak-Canadian Štefan Boleslav Roman, “Uranium King” was a founder of the Uranium mining company Denison Mines, the largest independent uranium mining company in the world in his days. Štefan B. Roman became a member of the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame and was a life-long supporter of Slovak community. As a living testimony of his and Jozef M. Kirschbaum’s work, Canada and Ottawa host the only University Chair in Slovak History and Culture in North America.

Slovakia and Canada share passionate interest in ice hockey. Slovak-Canadian Matthew (Matej) Buckna pioneered hockey in Czecho-Slovakia and coached the national team to its first world hockey championship in 1947. Slovakia hosted the 2011 world ice hockey championship and its national team was headed by the Canadian coach Glen Hanlon.

Modern Canada and Slovakia are multicultural societies. Canada draws its strength from vitality and diversity of its multicultural society.

Slovakia has always been a country at crossroads of nations, cultures and religions.
On the territory of today’s Slovakia the apostles of Slavs, Sts Cyril and Methodius started their religious, cultural and political mission among the Slavic nations in the 9th century.
Our ancestors in Slovakia participated at all cultural, economic and political achievements of the medieval and modern societies of multicultural and multiethnic kingdoms and empires in Central Europe.

Modern Slovakia is actively contributing to ambitious project of unified Europe and in this way Slovakia shares its rich Slovak heritage with other European nations and with the rest of the world.
There are many examples of rich and active Slovak – Canadian relations through which the Slovak heritage makes splendid Canadian cultural mosaic. One example for all: The Canadian Museum of Civilization in the Canadian National Capital region organised a Christmas Tree Decorating contest in December 2010. Eighteen organizations were selected to decorate a 2.5-metre tree in a way that expressed their identity, as well as the way in which they wanted to be viewed by the world. Over 9 000 people came to admire 18 trees. The Canadian Slovak League successfully presented Slovak heritage to the Canadians, as it was declared the winner of the contest, having won 24% of the votes. The Canadian Slovak League will be invited to participate again in the activity in 2011, and to decorate an even larger tree.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Your work and your achievements contribute to better understanding of the Slovak-Canadians, the Slovaks and Slovakia here in Canada, and, by the same token, to better understanding of the Slovak-Canadians and Canada in Slovakia. Yours is thus a very responsible and influential role in the maintaining and furthering the Slovak – Canadian relations.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear Slovak Canadians, you have every reason to be proud of your Slovak heritage, and with that in mind, I would like to wish the Museum all the success. Never forget, that history teaches everything, including the future.

Luba Henderson thanked the ambassador for his well chosen words, and invited Michael Martincek, Honorary Consul of the Slovak Republic to bring greetings from his office.

Mr. Martincek, congratulated everyone on the efforts made thus far in the development of the Museum. He stated that the children who portrayed love for their heritage, through song and dance were our future. It is up to us to retain and nourish that love for heritage by example and pass on the torch to those worthy of it.

Dr. Stanislav Kirschbaum, First Vice President of the Canadian Slovak League, brought greetings on behalf of the President, Mary Anne Doucette, who was not able to attend. He assured all present that the Canadian Slovak League strongly supports the initiatives of the Slovak Canadian Heritage Museum and encourages all to support and get involved in the Fundraising Campaign.

Raffle tickets were sold by Lisa and Joan Becar, Oil Painting by Marta Brestovansky was won by Emily Bohunicky; 2nd Prize Crystal Vase; 3rd Prize Book “Krasy Slovenska”- won by Agnes Belosich; 4th Prize Bottle of Hruskovica won by Michael Martincek. Door Prizes were also called and given out.

To complete the entertainment a video (taped by Slovensky Svet) was shown of the 2006 Slovak Heritage Festival. A Happy and memorable time, on the site of the Markham Museum.
In Closing Margaret Dvorsky thanked the Executive, Board members and friends for all their hard work, and all present for their support, in making this joyous celebration possible. With your help and cooperation, we will toil relentlessly to realize this dream that the Slovak Community in Canada is worthy of a standalone Slovak Museum. Pan Boh nam pomahaj!

Written by Margaret Dvorsky