Everything you need to know about our Community
You may have heard about and wondered “what is KLB”. It is the abbreviation for “Kanados lietuvių bendruomenė” in Lithuanian, also called “Bendruomenė” (Community). It is the official national organization of all Lithuanians in Canada, and is called Lithuanian Canadian Community (LCC), and it will be celebrating 70 years of activity in 2022. Over the years, it has accomplished many things and evolved through many changes. At first, it was important to coordinate of Lithuanian communities throughout Canada, as post-war immigrants settled throughout Canada. In that pre-internet era, it was essential to have a central “headquarters” to ensure that communities received necessary information regarding activities such as fund-raising, commemorations and lobbying at various government levels to support Lithuania in the fight for Lithuania’s freedom. Each community was a “chapter” or branch, and had its own committee for information-gathering, coordination and communication, and for organizing local activities.
The LCC is a legal Canadian entity, called the Lithuanian Canadian Community, a not for profit corporation. It is governed by a Board of Directors (Krašto valdyba) elected for a three-year term by the Member Organization delegates at an Annual Meeting of Members, in accordance with the Corporation’s governing by-law. The LCC has a registered Fund for Culture, Education and Charity (LCC Fund), thus is a registered charity in Canada. This means that the LCC issues tax receipts for eligible donations according to the rules of the CRA Charities Directorate. Currently, there are eight LCC member organizations: Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton, London, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Wasaga Beach.
How many are we? According to 2016 census data, there are 59,000 Lithuanians in Canada. The next question then, is who are Lithuanian Canadians? By definition, they are all Lithuanians, persons of Lithuanian heritage, living in Canada. Census results are based on those who indicate that they are Lithuanian on census forms. Only a portion of the total given actively participate in Lithuanian community activities of interest, including sports, choirs, dance groups, heritage language classes and support Lithuanian institutions such as community centres, religious congregations, youth camps. In some communities. In some communities this includes clubs for those who enjoy bowling, hockey, basketball, hiking, hunting and fishing, drama, films, scouting, youth leadership.
Community leaders (bendruomenininkai), or activists are those who help organize volunteers, facilities, and funding for various events such as major Lithuanian commemorations: Freedom Fighters’ Day (January 11), Independence Day (February 16 and March 11), Deportation Day (June 14), Statehood Day (July 6), Black Ribbon Day (August 23).
How do communities become members of the LCC/KLB? Its structure is based on active local community organizations. A community group would need to demonstrate that it has the capacity to organize community events, an accountability structure, and a minimum of 10 members who have paid a nominal membership fee to the organization. Membership is approved according to the LCC operating by-law. Each member organization’s president and one delegate attend the LCC annual meeting and have a right to vote. The number of additional delegates is designated according to the member organization‘s membership list.
Related Organizations & Membership
Organizations allied to or under the umbrella of the LCC, with representatives on the LCC Board of Directors are Kanados Lietuvių Jaunimo Sąjunga (Lithuanian-Canadian Youth Association) and Canadian Lithuanian Sports (Kanados sporto apygarda), part of the Lithuanian Athletic Union of North America (ŠALFASS/LAUNA).
The LCC is a member of the Lithuanian Canadian Foundation which allows the LCC one vote at the annual meeting of members, and to request funding as a registered charity.
The Lithuanian Canadian Foundation (Kanados Lietuvių Fondas) is a registered charity which invests donations in a capital fund and distributes annual earned interest as grants to members who organize Lithuanian Canadian community activities.
The LCC is also a registered member of the World Lithuanian Community or WLC (Pasaulio lietuvių bendruomenė, PLB), required to pay 50% of collected membership fees, and entitled to send six KLB delegates to the triannual PLB parliament (seimas) which elects the WLC Board of Directors.
The LCC is part of the Baltic Federation of Canada (BFC), together with the Latvian Federation in Canada and Estonian Central Council in Canada; and the Central and Eastern European Council in Canada (CEECC), which includes the BFC, Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Polish Canadian Congress, Belarusian, Hungarian, Czech, Albanian communities and represents members’ common interests on issues of concern.
Together with the Lithuanian American Community, the LCC participates in joint activities, such as the Folk Dance and Song Festivals, taking on funding responsibilities, designating organizing committee chairs, and participating in their meetings to ensure the success of such major cultural events.
Info from LCC Board of Directors, November, 2021