On Sunday March 30, 2014 The Slovak Canadian Heritage Museum (SCHM) presented "Our Multicultural Heritage" Festival at the Michael Power / St. Joseph High School in Etobicoke. The occasion was a major fundraising event for the Museum, and marked the passing of the SCHM Presidency torch from Margaret Dvorsky to Alena Melas.
This festival was made possible in part by a generous grant from the Trillium Foundation, and deep gratitude is expressed by the SCHM to the Trillium Foundation for their support in helping to enable this important multi-cultural and heritage event.
It was an opportunity to share our Slovak heritage with other multicultural groups. In this case the Mississauga Chinese Arts Organization and the White Eagle Polish Song and Dance Group.
Our Vychodna Slovak Dancers Juniors, Intermediate and Seniors along with Windsor's Domovina Slovak Dancers did us proud. The junior and intermediate dancers showed great promise for continuing to make us proud due to their enthusiasm and energy – see typical dance photos below. Notice the beautiful backdrop sets of Slovak villages prepared by Alena for setting the happy dance atmosphere.
The opening Ceremonies were conducted by Alena Melas SCHM President and Milan Kollar Ambassador of the Slovak Republic.
At one time we were all immigrants and we all have a story to tell Alena said. That is our Heritage and we can be proud of it.
Ambassador Kollar extended his warmest greetings to all and expressed his admiration and gratitude to all members and supporters of the Slovak Canadian Heritage Museum for their tireless work in preparation of the Program for organizing such a wonderful and important event. This is a major fundraiser for the Museum which does such important work for all of us, so please be generous he said.
Ambassador Kollar then honored Mrs. Margaret Dvorsky, the founder and longtime President of the Museum, with a lovely floral tribute and special gold medal presentation. He paid tribute and deep appreciation to Margaret for sparking and nurturing the idea of preserving the Slovak heritage in Canada in a Museum. Her dedication and tireless work made her dream a reality he said.
Then on behalf of the President of the Slovak Republic, the Government of the Slovak Republic and the Embassy of the Slovak Republic he presented Margaret Dvorsky with a special lifetime achievement gold medal – see the photos below for this wonderful tribute.
The torch has been passed on to Alena Melas the new President of the Museum. The transition from Margaret to Alena has been a seamless one. The success of the day's event is a testament to the hard work and the dedication of Alena Melas.
The Concert then opened with a blessing by Rev. Ladislav Kozak followed by his playing of the Fujara a beloved ancient Slovak Folk Instrument.
The program continued with lively folk dances by the Dance groups involved on a stage beautifully decorated Slovak Village Homes. The Chinese and Polish dance groups added to the Multicultural atmosphere, sharing our proud Heritages.
Our Junior Vyhodna Slovak Dancers were a reminder that this group will have to keep our Slovak Heritage Living.
Special mention must be made of Stefan Slovak Sr. and his wife Katherine who provided a classy medley of Slovak Songs. Dushan Dorich as usual did great work with the sound.
Some VIP's attending were:
• Milan Kollar, Ambassador for the Slovak Republic,
• Michael Martincek, Consulate of the Slovak Republic,
• Most Reverend Bishop John S. Pazak, C.Ss.R.
• Julius Behul, editor of the Kanadsky Slovak, accompanied by wife Marika
• Margaret Dvorsky past president of the Museum; accompanied by George Dvorsky, her son.
• Irene Timko from Windsor and the Domovina dancers' director.
• Councillor Peter Leon, Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre
• Mrs. Katarina Homolova, TV Slovensky Svet
Last but not least, we must mention the silent auction. Special thanks are expressed to Juliana Brestovansky for displaying and selling the art work of one of our Slovak Canadians most loved artists -- her late mother Marta Brestovansky. Also, deep appreciation is expressed to Ambassador Milan Kollar for donating Slovak folk pottery and crystal. Here are photos of the Brestovansky artwork set up for the silent auction and Julie with Julius Behul.
Request for Future Support for the Slovak Canadian Heritage Museum:
The SCHM Board of Directors members and the Slovak Community owe a big debt of gratitude to Alena Melas for her tireless work in planning, organizing and successfully achieving this important SCHM Multicultural Festival.
The SCHM is entirely comprised of volunteers whose mission is preservation of Slovak culture and heritage through the Museum. We need more financial and physical support, volunteers, greater participation from the Slovak community to ensure the prosperity of the SCHM into the future.
To ensure we are able to provide similar concerts in the future, there was an important questionnaire included with the Multi-cultural Festival asking for the Slovak community's input on ideas and suggestions to help the SCHM with its mission. Our long term goal within the next 5 years is to find a permanent home to house the Slovak heritage artifacts most of which are in storage now due to the lack of a permanent museum home at the present time.
or contact one of the following:
• Alena Melas, tel. 905-737-9075
• Helen Bucic, tel. 905-771-9748
• Luba Henderson, tel. 905-737-6463
• Anne Mitro, tel. 905-279-8154
• Joe Radvansky, tel. 905-822-9142
Article written by Rudy Bies, former member of the SCHM Board, and Paul Elias.
Contributions by Andrew Tapajna and Alena Melas.
Photographs by Paul Elias.