On the evening of February 16, Lithuanians in Canad gathered to celebrate Lithuania‘s 103rd birthday. Due to the pandemic we gathered virtually, of course, not at separate community events. And it was really the first time we were all together, connecting from Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver and even further away. Thanks to the Lithuanian Embassy in Ottawa, the Lithuanian Canadian community boards, the Lithuanian Canadian Youth Association and other Lithuanian organizations, we were able to smile at one another and say hello. Thanks to technology, we could be together on that special evening, even though we were thousands of kilometres apart. And thanks to the Embassy‘s staff, our 200 faces became a virtual birthday card for Lithuania. It was wonderful to see fellow-Lithuanians with the tricolour flag in Vancouver and Edmonton, Calgary and New Brunswick, Wasaga Beach and Hamilton, Toronto and other Canadian locations. A screenshot of the Zoom participants and greetings from Florida, Boston, Montreal, Ottawa and Chicago posted in the chatroom were so memorable!
After convening online and a short introduction, participants were invited to a special event dedicated to Lithuanian Canadians which took place at the House of Signatories (of the Declaration of Independence) in Vilnius. The evening‘s program created a special bond between Canada and Lithuania, with the singing of the Lithuanian and Canadian anthems, and a reading of the Declaration of Independence of February 16, 1918. Celebratory greetings were expressed by the Lithuanian Ambassador to Canada Darius Skusevičius, Lithuanian Canadian Community Executive Chair Kazimieras Deksnys, Lithuanian Bishops‘ Conference Delegate Monsignor Edmond Putrimas, and Chair of the World Lithuanian Community Dalia Henke. Greetings from various Canadian dignitaries were presented, and participants were addressed by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Lansbergis, Lithuanian Community representative Dana Valaškevičienė from London, Ontario,and Lithuanian Canadian Youth Association President Emilija Degutytė. Lithuanian Canadians heard especially warm words from Professor Vyautas Landsbergis, signatory of the Act of the Restoration of Independence of March 11, 1990 and President of the Restored Parliament of Lithuania. He remembered his first visits to Canada and thanked everyone for the warm welcome he received, as well as the tremendous support for the Republic of Lithuania that Lithuanian Canadians showed with their one million dollar donation for the purchase of the Lithuanian Embassy quarters in Brussels.
Canada‘s ambassador to Lithuania Kevin Rex spoke about the excellent diplomatic, trade and cultural relations which continue to develop between Canada and Lithuania.
A musical program was presented by the Vilnius College Art and Creative Technologies Faculty singers headed by Dalia Abarė and director-creator Dalius Abaris.
Sincere thanks go to the Lithuanian Embassy in Canada, the Lithuanian Canadian Foundation, and Talka, Resurrection and Parama Credit Unions for funding this virtual event.
At the end of the program, a documentary called “Gloria Lietuvai“ (Glory to Lithuania) showed the ancient bell towers of Lithuania. The sound of the church bells and the sight of its precious churches brought to mind Lithuania‘s turbulent history, as well as the beauty of its countryside, towns, and cities, built by Lithuanian hands.
The evening ended with views of Niagara Falls, an iconic Canadian site, lit up in the colours of the Lithuanian flag. On this special day, as is traditional, the tricolor flew in Ottawa and other cities in Canada, and 60,000 LED lights in yellow green and red illuminated Edmonton‘s bridge in Alberta.
Sincere thanks to the Lithuanian Embassy in Canada for arranging this special event.
Remote greetings from: