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Hellenic Heritage Foundation Donation Highlights Greek Diaspora in Canada

The National Herald

Hellenic Heritage Foundation President Tony Lourakis and York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton at the donation announcement event. Photo: Gary Beechey, BDS Studios

TORONTO – York University will expand the Greek Canadian History Project thanks to a generous $1.4-million donation over five years from the Hellenic Heritage Foundation (HHF). In recognition of this gift, the Greek Canadian History Project will receive a new name: starting September 22 the project is known as the Hellenic Heritage Foundation Greek Canadian Archives.

The archives are a collection of items, such as documents, newspapers, books, images, audio and video tapes, and files that catalogue the experiences of Greeks immigrating to Canada after the Second World War.It is designed and committed to identifying, acquiring, digitizing, preserving, and providing access to primary source materials that reflect the experiences of Canada's Greek immigrants and their descendants.

The new funding will help expand the existing physical archive and establish a digital archive to be housed at York University — providing a framework for the study of Greek diaspora around the world. The collection will enable researchers to tell the story of newcomer life in Canada and will lead to knowledge mobilization of the history of other communities in Canada and beyond.

The collection will be expanded, establishing a searchable public portal where newly catalogued exhibits and oral histories (captured through interviews) can be viewed.

This additional support will build on the work that began in 2012 under the leadership of then-graduate student Christopher Grafos and his supervisor, Professor Sakis Gekas, HHF Chair of Modern Greek History, in York's Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. At the time, Grafos and Gekas began collecting memorabilia and important records documenting the history of a diversity of Greek immigrants to capture and preserve the record of their experience in Canada. Now the Project's Director, Dr. Grafos has built the collection into a remarkable anthology of the immigrant experience in Canada. The new funding will build on this by helping to process, organize and digitize the collection, and make it widely available for researchers and students — including the development of a new course on the history of Greeks in Canada.

The National Herald

Left to right: York University Dean of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies J.J. McMurtry, HHF President Tony Lourakis, York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton, and Acting Vice-President of University Advancement Louise Spencer. Photo: Gary Beechey, BDS Studios

These stories and materials will be a valuable resource for those teaching and learning about immigration and the rich-and-diverse set of experiences and value newcomers bring to Canada.

York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton said, “York University is profoundly grateful for its longstanding partnership with the Hellenic Heritage Foundation. For more than two decades, the Hellenic Heritage Foundation has been a generous supporter of the University and the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. Today's landmark $1.4-million contribution will serve to expand the newly renamed Hellenic Heritage Foundation Greek Canadian Archives, providing indispensable resources for scholars and researchers exploring the immigrant experience in Canada.”

HHF President Tony Lourakis said: “Investing in the HHF Greek Canadian Archives represents the foundation of what we hope to achieve. The archives will be public and available for people to study. They'll be able to learn about Greek Canadian history in a way that they might not experience from other public historical records. And in turn, we can engage with the public in a more familiar and intimate way than we might have otherwise.”

About York University

York University is a modern, multi-campus, urban university located in Toronto, Ontario. Backed by a diverse group of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and partners, we bring a uniquely global perspective to help solve societal challenges, drive positive change, and prepare our students for success. York's fully bilingual Glendon Campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education. York's campuses in Cota Rica and India offer students exceptional transnational learning opportunities and innovative programs.

About Hellenic Heritage Foundation

The HHF is a Canadian charitable, nonprofit organization with a mission to preserve, promote and advance Hellenic education, culture, and heritage in Canada.

Video of the gift announcement event may be viewed on YouTube: https://youtu.be/nCVXMBArILI.

More information about the HHF Greek Canadian Archives is available online: https://archives.library.yorku.ca/gchp/.