Tėviškės žiburiai – The Lights of Homeland

The annual general meeting of the publishers of Tėviškės žiburiai – The Lights of Homeland took place on December 3, 2023, at the Resurrection Parish in Toronto. On the same day, a special meeting of members was called to vote on the dissolution procedure of the corporation – Žiburiai (Canadian Lithuanian) Roman Catholic Cultural Society, Inc.

At the AGM, reports were read by president Giedra Paulionis, treasurer Aušra Trussow, Audit Committee chair Rev. Vytautas Staškevičius and editors Sigina Katkauskaitė, Ramūnė Jonaitis, and Akvilė Minkevičienė.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the weekly “Tėviškės žiburiai“ – The Lights of Homeland, a publication dedicated to the Lithuanian community in Canada and the Llithuanian diaspora. Over time, the newspaper changed to accommodate developments in technology – evolving from linotype to word processor to computer, from cut-and-paste layout to digital publishing programs.

As the decades passed, they swept away most of the newspaper‘s founders, contributors and subscribers. For the generation that followed, born and raised in Canada, the Lithuanian language and culture became less essential, while postal and publishing costs rose steeply and financial support declined. In its 70th year, the corporation decided to discontinue publishing the print newspaper and followed in the footsteps of many publications in the form of a website. The newspaper office at Anapilis Community Centre in Mississauga and all its archives were passed to the Lithuanian Museum-Archives of Canada. The timing coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, and website and administrative staff worked from home. Pandemic restrictions curtailed cultural events and thus also – material for the website. Advertisers and organizations, many of whom had their own websites, chose not to continue with ads on, and free, non-subscription access to the site also severely affected the flow of income.

Although older subscribers were not inclined to read Lithuanian news online, a weekly newsletter and Facebook page did attract a younger readership. Unfortunately, last summer the government introduced a restriction on news being conveyed through Facebook and cut off an important and fairly popular communication platform. Bequests and individual donations were helpful, and the publishers thank everyone for their generosity. However ensuring the continuity of the task without a stable source of income became unviable.

The Cultural Society “Žiburiai“, established in 1949 to oversee the publication of the newspaper, was chaired by known community activists Balys Sakalas, Vytautas Aušrotas, Jonas Andrulis, Vytautas Krikščiūnas, Petras Bražukas, dr. Silvestras Čepas, Ramūnė Sakalaitė-Jonaitienė, Joana Kuraitė and Giedra Rinkūnaitė-Paulionienė. We thank them all for their time and dedication.

Current president Giedra Rinkūnas-Paulionis has retained legal services to provide guidance for the correct procedures in closing the operations of the corporation. On December 3, at the special meeting members voted on resolutions required by law regarding submission of documents of dissolution to the appropriate government bodies. The decision to dissolve the corporation and discontinue its work had been passed at the Annual General Meeting of 2022, with a closing date of June 30, 2024.

“Tėviškės žiburiai“ – The Lights of Homeland was an important publication for Lithuanians in Canada and abroad, established by the second (post-World War II) generation of Lithuanian immigrants. The 75 years that it existed, a substantial amount of time for any organization, inevitably changed both the platform itself and the demographic it served.

All past issues of the newspaper have been digitized and are available in the general database of the Lithuanian press in the diaspora, It contains the story of several generations of Lithuanians in Canada. The next story is in the hands of the new generation.

Executive Committee, “Žiburiai“ Inc.