Ontario Celebrates Greek Independence Day & Hellenic Heritage Month

TORONTO, CANADA – Effie Triantafilopoulos, Member of the Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Oakville North-Burlington spoke in the Ontario Legislature on March 25 to mark the Bicentennial of Greek Independence. Her remarks were just one of the ways that the Ontario Government recognized this important day. 

MPP Triantafilopoulos’ Statement to the Ontario Legislature, March 25, 2021:

“Today is a special day for people of Hellenic descent in Ontario and for Hellenes around the world. March 25 marks the bicentennial of the independence of Greece. On this day in 1821, the people of Greece rose up against the Ottoman Empire in a revolution that gained them their independence. After centuries of living under Ottoman despotism, Greece, the enlightened land that gave birth to democracy, reclaimed its liberty and was a free nation once again. 

“I am proud that my bill to proclaim March as Hellenic Heritage Month was passed by our government— the first and only jurisdiction in Canada to do so. We are proud of our history and the gift of democracy our ancestors gave to the world.

“The bicentennial marks the restoration of liberty to the land where Pericles orated to the people of Athens, to the land where Alexander was tutored at the foot of Aristotle, to the land where Hellenes stood for liberty at Marathon, Salamis and Thermopylae, where they rose up in 1821 with the cry, ‘Eleftheria i thanatos’ — ‘Liberty or death’ — and the land that shouted, ‘Oxi’— ‘No’ — to the armies of the Fascist invaders in 1941. 

“While Greece is free, all nations can dream of freedom. Zhto i Ellada. Zhto o Kanadas. Long live Greece, long live Canada.” 

Video of MPP Triantafilopoulos speaking is available on Facebook:

MPP Christina Mitas marked Greek Independence Day in the Legislature with the following remarks: “I’m thrilled to be able to rise in the House and speak today in celebration of the bicentennial celebration of Greek Independence Day.

“Every year on March 25 since 1821, Greeks around the world commemorate this day. This year is extra special for us as it marks 200 years since we liberated our country out from Ottoman rule by rising up in a war of independence.

“This year, we celebrate with more fervor and passion than ever before—a very impressive feat if you are familiar with the passion and zest for life, the kefi, that Greeks have on any given day. We are so proud to come from a long line of fighters who stand up for their country, their culture, their religion, their way of life, and above all, for freedom.

“In 1821, we committed to freedom or death— eleftheria i thanatos— and we meant it. This fighting spirit has stayed with the Greek people, both those living in Greece and those like me who are part of the diaspora. This day reminds us of our people’s accomplishments and encourages us to continue to stand for freedom, both in Greece and around the world. Not everyone lives in a free country; in fact, many don’t. Greek Canadians are especially proud to live in a strong, democratic country such as Canada.

“I honor my ancestors today, and I commit to follow in their footsteps and do everything I can to safeguard the freedoms that we hold so dear. While Greece is free, and while Greeks around the world proudly and loudly stand for freedom and against tyranny and oppression, all people and countries can dream of freedom too.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford also shared his best wishes for Greek Independence Day in a video message and thanked the Hellenic community for their ongoing efforts during the pandemic. The video is available on Facebook:

The Ontario government is also investing $325,000 to support the planning and development of a new Greek-Canadian heritage museum to house a collection of artifacts in Toronto. The museum will serve as a new community hub and central repository of photos, historic newspapers, books and an archive of recorded histories. Additionally, it will provide professionally designed educational programs for people of all ages, linking generations of Canadians to the Hellenic legacy. 

Details were provided on March 25 by Premier Ford and Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, during a virtual meeting with His Eminence Archbishop Sotirios of Canada. 

"Ontario is home to a proud and growing Greek community," said Premier Ford. "This museum will provide a destination for everyone to celebrate Greek heritage and culture, right here in Toronto. The strength of our province is our diversity and cultural heritage, that's why it's so fitting that we make this important announcement to help mark Hellenic Heritage Month and the 200th anniversary of Greek independence." 

The government consulted a variety of leaders, including the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Canada, who identified the need for a public space to connect generations to the legacy of Hellenic culture. The museum will be located at the Archdiocesan headquarters in Toronto and will attract people of all ages. Project planning is currently in preliminary stages with timelines and architectural plans to be determined. 

"Today marks the 200th anniversary of Greek Independence Day, and our government recognizes the valuable contributions that Hellenic Canadians have made to Ontario's cultural wealth, vitality and economic success," said Minister MacLeod. "With more than 270,000 people of Hellenic descent in Canada, and more than half of them living in Toronto, there is no better place to locate this new Greek-Canadian heritage museum. This investment will boost tourism in the GTA [Greater Toronto Area], bring communities together and highlight the modern intellectual and scientific knowledge people of Hellenic descent have brought to the province – showcasing how Ontario offers the world in one province.”

Archbishop Sotirios said: “Today, on the dual celebration of the Annunciation and Greek Independence, I am both humbled and honored to meet with Premier Ford and members of the government as we take the first step together to develop a Greek-Canadian Heritage Museum. This valuable initiative and dedicated funding will ensure that the story of Canadians of Greek descent is protected and preserved. I extend my gratitude to the Premier and praise his commitment to the Hellenic ideals of family, freedom, democracy and human rights, as well as thank Minister MacLeod, and MPPs Triantafilopoulos and Mitas for paying tribute to the 200th anniversary of Greek independence with this historic announcement.”


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