On Sunday, September 23, 2018 about 200 parishioners gathered at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church in Mississauga to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the arrival of many to Canada. Hundreds of Slovaks immigrated to Canada after the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by thousands of Russian troops. A special mass was dedicated for this anniversary and a festive lunch followed. Mrs. Anne Mitro had organized a very unique program that started with a recording obtained from CBC radio of their broadcasts of the event fifty years ago. It was quite dramatic. Then some of the people who experienced this personally spoke about their individual situations. Katka Gulej, Dagmar Prugler, Rastislav Orel, Julia Gulej, Katka Orel, Alena Melas and Dakna Gulej are past students from the Slovak school that have been friends for fifty years had reunited for a memorable photo with their teacher Mrs. Marika Olah. This was a very special occasion for many that day.
The Slovak Canadian Heritage Museum prepared a special display of five showcases with newspapers with stories and pictures from 1968. The pictures were from the collection of Mr. Joe Radvansky who arranged the events chronologically of the Russian tanks and soldiers hurling into the country. The demonstrations by the people showed their horrified faces as they feared that another war might be coming. This fear is what made many people decide very quickly to run to neighbouring countries or to US and Canada. The Museum would like to thank the people who shared their stories as it was not easy for many to recall these horrible times. The collection of these stories will be ongoing by the Museum. There is still time if you would like to submit your account of your experience please contact the museum and we will be happy to assist you. The Slovak Canadian Heritage Museum will be continuing on this theme and will be hosting a professional speaker from the Canadian National Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax. Mr. Jan Raska will be coming to Toronto to speak at the University of Toronto and then will come and present that lecture to us at the SCHM on Saturday, November 10 at 10:30 am at the CSL/SCHM hall at 259 Traders Blvd. E. #6 in Mississauga. Mr. Raska is a former student of Professor Mark Stolarik in Ottawa. We are very fortunate to have been able to arrange for Mr. Raska to come and spend some time with us at the museum. He will take these stories back to the Pier 21 Museum where they will be entered as accounts of that historic event. So the more stories we collect the stronger our Slovak voice will be in history archives. We once again invite you all to come and support this museum event. We also invite you to bring any photos, artifacts, documents, currency, stamps, pins, buttons, ribbons, super 8 films or slides that you may have to show or to donate.
Please help us by contacting us and telling us your story. This is your chance to be a part of something important for our commons.
Slovak Museum of Canadian Heritage.
Contact: Slovak Museum 289-553-1762
Photos: Helen von Friedl and Alena Melas