Biometric documents, such as passports, increase the safety of international travel, exclude the possibility of forgery and today are standard practice all over the world. The disadvantage is that the encoded digital photo and fingerprints can only be obtained during a physical presence of the applicant. Thus individuals and families wanting to renew their Slovak passport, had to travel to the embassy or Ottawa, or to Slovakia. From Calgary or Vancouver, both of these possibilities are financially and time-consuming.
When the Embassy of the Slovak Republic announced that after long while will again organize Consular days in Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver, interest was high right from the beginning. Branch 65 of the Canadian Slovak League, which promoted and reserved space, refreshments and cultural program for the event in Calgary, had to extend twice the reservation in the hall of the church of St. Joseph, and still the last applicants were processed late in the evening.
H.E. Ambassador Andrej Droba, Consul Martin Bartoň, Honorary Consul Richard Wolfli and Assistant of the Honorary Consulate Veronika Čarnogurská were very busy, and finally had to "toil" even during the outstanding performances of the Slovak folk groups Sunflower and children group Sunshine. But everyone highly appreciated that the Ambassador found time for everyone and was sincerely interested in Slovak communities in Calgary and Edmonton, about our events and activities, and promised every possible assistance that worthwhile projects were financially supported by the Office for Slovaks Living Abroad as well as available funds from the European Union.
One such project is a Slovak school in Calgary. The prosperity in Alberta attracted to Calgary many young families with children. Organizer of the project, Dr. Eva Hadzimová, was motivated that despite her young daughter speak Slovak very well, yet does not know how to read and write in her mother tongue, simply because in Calgary there is no institution in which our children and grandchildren could learn such skills. New school with qualified teachers will be available three Saturday of each month and will open in central of Calgary in the fall. More details are on www.skschool.ca
Thanks also to Fero Kilo, his wife Majka and other volunteers who helped ensure the success of the event, and to folk groups Slnecnica and Slniecko, who presented to our guests from the Embassy, how strong and appealing is the Slovak culture and heritage in Western Canada. All were pleased with the promise of the Ambassador that he will ask the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to hold Consular days in western Canada every year.
Text and photos Palo Čarnogurský