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Foreign Minister Paet: Canadian Estonians Have Made Strong Contribution to Estonia’s Development

08.11.2010

No. 340 -E

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet met in Ottawa and Toronto with members of the Estonian community in Canada. He stated that the role Estonians living in Canada play in preserving Estonia’s culture and traditions is very important, and many Canadian-born Estonians have contributed to the development of the Estonian nation after re-independence. “Following the restoration of Estonia’s independence, many Estonians from Canada have returned to their fatherland, and Estonia has benefited from their experiences and expertise. Many Estonians that have lived in Canada have also helped to develop Estonia’s foreign service,” Paet added.

Paet stated that Canada holds a special significance for Estonians, as it provided a safe refuge for thousands of their fellow countrymen. “For those who fled the Soviet occupation and escaped to Canada, the country provided safety as well as opportunities to study, work, and become a part of a society that values multiculturalism. Currently one of the biggest Estonian communities in the world is found in Canada,” added Paet.

“In addition to close person-to-person contacts, Estonia and Canada share many common values and views in foreign, economic, and security policy,” the Estonian foreign minister noted.

Foreign Minister Paet said that thanks to the Canadian-Estonian community, Estonia and Canada have always shared good cultural ties. “Through culture and individual contacts we have the opportunity to introduce Estonia better in Canada. For example, an Estonian documentary short film festival was just recently held in Toronto,” he added. Almost every year since 1990 has seen the occurrence of Estonia-Canada cultural days, during which it is possible to hear Estonian music, watch Estonian films, and become acquainted with Estonian culture and ethnic art.

Estonians living in the Ottawa and Toronto areas expressed interest in Estonia’s political and economic situation. Estonia’s relations with its neighbouring countries were also discussed, as was Estonia’s role in the European Union and foreign relations in general. Paet also visited the Estonian Exile Museum and Tartu College in Toronto.

Estonians in Canada are represented by the Estonian Central Council in Canada, which was established in 1951 and has the goal of developing and preserving cultural, economic and other ties between Estonians in Canada and the Estonian state. In addition, many cities also have Estonian societies that work to organise events and help people who are living in Estonia. Large numbers of Estonians are mainly concentrated in three areas of Canada: Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal.

Photos from the foreign minister’s meeting with Canadian Estonians:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/estonian-foreign-ministry

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