VANCOUVER CHURCH GETS NEW
St. George Cathedral (Hellenic Community of Vancouver) has recently
had new carpet installed. The old carpet, which was about 35 years old,
was in bad shape, threadbare and hazardous to tripping in areas so it was
badly in need of replacement. When an appeal was made to the parishioners,
members and friends for money to replace the carpet they opened their
pockets in support. Donations poured in and in a few months over $100,000
was collected to help pay for the carpet. Greeks of British Columbia take
pride in beautifying their places of worship. Everyone was pleased that
the new carpet was installed well in advance of Christmas.
PARISHIONERS LEFT OUT IN THE
The Hellenic Community of Vancouver recently decided to award the
catering contract for its community events to a different catering outfit
than the one it has used for many years.
This might not have been as wise a decision as first thought.
January 1st, the congregation of St. George Cathedral expected to go into
the hall for refreshments after the liturgy as usual to enjoy a cup of
coffee and exchange New Year greetings. Some also expected as it was St.
Basil Day that the Vasilopita would be cut that day. However, when people
tried to open the doors to the main hall they found the doors locked. When
they looked through the doors they saw that the hall was a mess. There had
been no clean up after the New Year Eve party which had been held there
the night before. Thinking that perhaps the refreshments would be served
in the upper hall people then tried the upper entrance but that also was
locked. So they were completely locked out.
This had not
ever happened with the previous caterers. They had always made every
effort to ensure the hall was cleaned up after any party for the church
congregation to use on Sundays after the church service, even if it meant
staying there until early morning to get it done.
The board of
the Hellenic Community most likely did not intend it as such but to many
people who supported the many fund raising efforts, including that for the
new church carpet this locking of the doors especially on that important
day seemed like a slap in their face.
SURREY CHURCH FACELIFT
The Greek Orthodox Community of Surrey has put a lot of work into
renovating the church (Sts. Constantine and Helen Church) since its
purchase in 2010. The latest improvement has been the installation of
carpet. The previous flooring was hardwood but it was decided to cover it
with carpet rather than to refurbish it. Carpet has the advantage of being
more soundproof. As well all the pews that came with the church when it
was purchased were removed and replaced with new ones. These lighter
wooden pews will blend in well with the new carved iconostas that is
expected to arrive from Greece soon. It is hoped that the iconostas will
be in place for Pascha.
The Surrey community has put a lot of work into renovating the
church and improving the property since its purchase. The first
improvement was the renovation of the basement hall and the kitchen. Then
work was done on the grounds. The fence between the church and the
adjoining property was removed and the two properties fenced as one. The
whole area was paved and once the parking spaces are properly marked the
parking situation should improve.
renovations will need to be done in the future. The next priority is to
plan how to gain better access to the church for those unable to easily
negotiate the steep stairs. The house on the property will also need
extensive renovations to make it suitable for community use.
The Surrey community has many donors to thank for being able to go
ahead with the original purchase and the subsequent renovations. Every
donation, whether large or small has helped. A few donors stand out as
without their help the community would not have accomplished so much in
such a short time. The biggest contributor has been Anthony Andreou who
has contributed over $170,000 in total, first $100,000, then $50,000 as
well as many smaller ones. Other large contributors include Vasile
Mavritsakis family who donated the material and labour for the fence,
George Apostolopoulos family and Ploutos Enterprises who donated flooring
for the basement hall as well as tiling and carpet for the church, Steve
Schismenos family who donated the aluminum railing and Michael Kefalas who
donated countless hours of labour. The current president George
Giannakopoulos and his board, along with the priest, Rev. Fr. Costantinos
Tsiolas and Presvetera have all put in many hours of hard labour.
There were many people who at first were not happy with the
decision to purchase the present property but at the least it got the
community out of the old Fleetwood Hall. That place had doubled for too
long as both a church and a hall in the same space, not an ideal
situation. Now attendance at church has increased as people are more
comfortable attending the services in a proper church even if it still has
some shortcomings. People are
now more willing to support the church, as has been evident with the
progress within the past twenty or so months.
MEMBERSHIP DINNER -SURREY
January 14th the Greek Orthodox Community of Surrey & Fraser Valley
held its annual membership dinner in the church hall.
The weather conditions were not great that evening. It had snowed
the night before but throughout the day the sun was out and the snow was
slowly melting. Once it became dark the temperature dropped and freezing
occurred, making the roads and parking lots icy. However this did not
discourage many people from attending the event. Over a hundred people
managed to make it.
were to start at 6:30 pm and dinner at 7:30 pm. There was no “Greek
time” that evening as most of the people had arrived well before 6:30
pm. By 7pm the last guests
had arrived so the dinner service also began early. Rev. Fr. Costa Tsiolas
gave the blessing. The cooks John Syskakis and Costas Kontogianatos with
the assistance of the president George Giannakopoulos did an excellent job
of preparing a delicious chicken meal.
After the dinner past president Pavlos Kaltsidis welcomed everyone
and cracked a few jokes before the door and raffle prizes were drawn. Tony
Zyskos provided the music and dancing followed. Many people however had
the slick road conditions in mind and decided to leave for home early.
tickets were reasonably priced at $20 each, with children under 12 only
$10 each. This allowed for an excellent meal with some profit also for the
community. As well some money was raised through raffle ticket sales. Of
course the main fund raiser for the evening was the membership fees of $50
per person or $100 per family.
AHEPA SCHOLARSHIP 2011 AWARDS
On Sunday Dec. 11th the AHEPA Family Charitable Foundation of
District #26 held its annual scholarship project dinner in the upper hall
of the Hellenic Community Centre in Vancouver. About
a hundred people were in attendance
foundation was incorporated in May of 1983 to act as the coordinating body
of the charitable works of the Order of Ahepa, Daughters of Penelope, Sons
of Pericles and the Maids of Athena in British Columbia (collectively the
AHEPA Family). It is a registered charity under the Income Tax Act
(Canada). AHEPA District #26
chapters include CJ#6-Vancouver, CJ#16-Burnaby, CJ#31-Victoria and
CJ#41-Richmond as well as Daughters of Penelope chapters #179-Poseidon and
Scholarship recipients were Tonia Sideropoulos, Peter Bizos, Andreas
Pilarinos, Carrie Tsigounis, Mathew Katsionis, and John Sidiropoulos. Each
received $1000. The sponsors for the six scholarships were : 1. Ahepa
Supreme Lodge, 2. Ahepa District #26 (Peter Mouzakis Appreciation),
3. Ahepa District #26, 4. Gus Bonnis Memorial, 5. Ahepa Gladstone
CJ#6 ($500) and Daughters of Penelope ($500) and 6. N. Mesotopitis Family
($500) and Eleni & Yiannis Daroukakis Memorial ($500).
who contributed to the awards were Ahepa Headquarters, Daughters of
Penelope/Poseidon Chapter, Ahepa District #26, Ahepa Chapter CJ#6, Peter
Alevras, George Apostolopoulos, Jim Bonnis, Gus Bonnis Memorial, Larry
Campanas, Nick Candas, Chris Christodoulou, Andrew Clerides, Cosmos
Restaurant, E&Y Daroukakis Memorial, Kostas Falias, Evangelos Graffos,
Jim Heras, Jim Karambelas, Harry Katevantis, Nick Laraigakis, Anastase
Maragos, Nick Mesotopitis & family, Paul Michael, Omega Travel,
Nicholas Preovolos, John Preovolos, Sfinaki Taverna, Jim Tsiakoa, Chris
Tsandoulas, Ted Tsoromokos, John & Anastasia Virvilis and A&P
Berggren, the Consul of Cyprus was one of the special guests. As well
there were special guests from Manitoba, Steve Ashton and his wife Hari
Dimitrakopoulou. Mr. Ashton is the Manitoba MLA (NDP) for Thompson and the
Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation. He was one of the guest
speakers and spoke proudly of his Greek connection and especially his
daughter, Niki Ashton. She is currently the NDP Member of Parliament for
the federal riding of Churchill, Manitoba.
GREEK CANADIAN ENTERS NDP
the NDP Member of Parliament for the riding of Churchill, Manitoba at the
beginning of November launched her campaign to become the next leader of
the NDP Party.
She was born
in 1982 in Thompson, Manitoba and grew up there. She attended Li Po Chun
United World College of Hong Kong as well as the University of Manitoba
where she earned a BA in Global Political Economy. She also has a MA in
International Affairs from Carleton University. She has studied human
rights in Canada and for her work was awarded the Ahmed Ali Hashi Human
Rights Scholarship. She has been an instructor at the University College
of the North. She also volunteered at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. In
August of 2011 she married Ryan Baker in Alexandropoulou, Greece, the
hometown of her mother Hari Dimitrakopoulou.
speaks eight languages ; Greek, French, English, Spanish, Mandarin
Chinese, Russian, Ukrainian and Turkish. She is now also learning Cree. As
the daughter of a politician, MLA (NDP) Steve Ashton it was no surprise
that she chose to be a politician herself. She was first elected in the
2008 federal election.
her proud father took advantage of his visit to the Hellenic Community of
Vancouver and the AHEPA Scholarship Awards dinner in December to campaign
on his daughter’s behalf. She herself was in Vancouver in the middle of
November campaigning among the Greeks.
GREEKS IN MEXICO
It seems that wherever one travels one is bound to come in contact
with a Greek or a Greek restaurant. On a recent trip to the Mexico
peninsula of Baja California that was also the case.
As this was my first trip to the Baja, in particular to the
southern tip, the tourist corridor between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del
Cabo I was pleasantly surprised to see how much the area reminded me of
Greece. The area there is quite arid but at the same time also quite lush.
Although the annual rainfall is only about an inch a year there are many
underground springs. Also the ocean breezes from the west and the sea
breezes from the east provide moisture that the plants pull out of the
air. So the area was abundant with plants such as palm trees,
bougainvillea and oleander, plants one also sees all over Greece. The
architecture also puts one in mind of Greece. Walking down some of the
residential streets some of the houses had a striking resemblance to
churches in Greece. Travelling the corridor between San Lucas and San Jose
one passes the Mykonos hotel – with the sea at its back it looks like it
is situated on a Greek isle.
I was not there long enough to determine if the Mykonos was built
by a Greek or by someone else who had fallen in love with Greece and
wanted to transport it to Mexico.
There is no
Greek community on the Baja but the presence of the Mykonos hotel
convinced me that there must at least be a few Greeks there and at the
very least a Greek restaurant. So my search led me to Apostolis
Mediterranean Seafood restaurant in San Jose del Cabo. However, I did not
get a chance to visit it until my last evening there. A few days prior, on
the Sunday, we took a trip to the east cape of Cabo, to Los Barriles.
There we passed a little pizza establishment, also called Apostolis but as
it was still early in the day it was not open. When we finally visited
Apostolis in San Jose we found that the owner of both establishments,
Apostolis Blougouras, who originally comes from Naxos, Greece actually
lived in Los Barriles. He only spent Monday and Tuesday at the San Jose
location. The San Jose location is managed by his Mexican partner and
family. However, although we were not able to meet the Greek we did enjoy
an excellent meal at the establishment. The lemon sole was the best we had
tasted anywhere. The manager told us that as far as he knew there was only
one other Greek in the area and he was not sure of his name. All he could
tell us was that Alex worked in Cabo San Lucas, he rented out sun
umbrellas to tourists. However, on the next trip to the area more effort
will be made to meet the Greeks of the area.
Greeks migrated to Mexico as long as 150 years ago. From 1857 to
1976 about 3500 settled in Mexico. Most settled around Mexico City,
Sinaloa state and surrounding cities. The Mexican government invited so
many Greeks to work in Sinaloa, Mexico, especially in the 1940s to improve
the harvest of tomatoes that the area became known as “Valley of
Greece”. Sinaloa state, especially its capital city of Culiacan still
has a heavy Greek presence and Greek surnames are common there today.
estimated that there are between 4,000 to 25,000 Greek Mexicans throughout
Mexico, depending on how many generations one traces back. The largest
Greek community is that of Sinaloa but there is also the Hellenic
Community of Mexico with the Church of Santa Sofia in Naucalpan, near
Mexico City. There is another Greek community in Guadalajara and one in
the municipality of Colotlan as well as some other areas.
Greek Orthodox Church (Santa Sofia) was not established until 1964. So
during the early years, without a church to hold the Greeks together, many
of the early Greeks converted to Roman Catholicism. However, now many
indigenous Mexicans are embracing the Orthodox Church so Orthodoxy in
Mexico is growing.
Mexicans of Greek descent include athletes, writers, actors and artists
and others. One of the early settlers was the anarchist Plotino
Constantino Rhodakanaty. He was born in 1828 in Greece and arrived in
Mexico in 1861. He set out to organize a socialist colony in Mexico. His
followers included Santiago Villanueva, Francisco Zalacosta, Julio Chavez
Lopes and Jose Maria Gonzales. These people later formed a nucleus in the
early Mexican and peasant movements. He is also known as the first Elder
of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) in Mexico.
Aridjas, writer and diplomat was born in Mexico in 1940, to a Greek father
and a Mexican mother. His father fought in the Greek army during WWI and
the Greek-Turkish War before fleeing Asia Monor to Mexico. Aridjis has
published over 41 books, has been a professor at several American
Universities and served as Mexico’s ambassador to the Netherlands and
Switzerland. He has two daughter, New York filmmaker Eva Aridjis and
writer Chloe Aridjis, in London
Enrique Metinides (Jaralambos Enrique Metinides Tsironidas) was born in
Mexico City in 1934, the son of Greek immigrants. He began his career as a
crime reporter when he was only twelve years old. His work has shown in
galleries in Mexico, USA, and Europe.
player Nevy Castillo was born in Mexico in 1984, with his family roots
tracing back to Greece, Uruquay and Italy. He holds both Mexican and Greek
citizenship. From 2000 to 2007 he played for Olympiakos, in Greece.
Lampros Kontogiannis Gomez, born in 1988 is another Greek-Mexican soccer
player who currently plays for the Tigres UANL in Monterry. Felipe Munoz
Kapamas is another athlete. He was a 1968 Olympic gold medalist in
swimming and is the head of the Olympic Committee in Mexico
Crisantes (Hector Crisanthakis) was born in Tucson, Arizona in 1979 the
son of a Greek-American amateur musician. He grew up in Mexico and started
his musical career at the age of eight. He plays the guitar, keyboard and
drums as well as sings.
artists include Constantino Stamatiades -visual artist, sculpture, web
designer and animater, Kleomenes Stamatiades -actor, set and costume
designer and art director and Sofia Stamiatiades.-actor.
Also of Greek descent are the comedians –Los Chicharrines –
brothers Gabriel and Cesar Ramirez.
Kolioussi is a well known member of the Hellenic Community of Mexico
and professor in the department of applied linguistics, department
of Modern Greek of UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico)
It is hoped
that on a future trip to Mexico we will have the opportunity to visit some
of the Greek communities and meet the people who have carried on the
traditions of their Greek forefathers.