On July 17, in commemoration of World Lithuanian Unity Day and the trans-Atlantic flight of legendary pilots Steponas Darius and Stasys Girėnas, Foreign Minister of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis granted two Canadian Lithuanians the Merit Award for their contributions to Lithuanan life in the diaspora.
Recipients are Juozas Karasiejus, director of the Toronto Folk Dance Ensemble “Gintaras” from 1965 to 2005;
Rev. Jonas Šileika, OFM, pastor of the Toronto Resurrection Parish, the largest Lithuanian congregation in Canada;
and Lithuanian Community of Montreal Chair Daiva Jaugelis.
World Lithuanian Unity Day is celebrated every year on July 17, together with the commemoration of Darius and Girėnas’ flight in 1933, which they dedicated to unifying Lithuanians on both sidles of the Atlantic. This year is the 90th anniversary of that courageous endeavour.