The Greek Canadian History Project (GCHP) was recently hosted for presentations at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the Canadian Institute in Greece (Athens). The presentations offered insight into the origins of the GCHP and reflected upon some of the GCHP’s Toronto Telegram collection, which vividly captures the entanglement of Greek and Canadian history through the lives of immigrants.
The Thessaloniki leg of the visit to Greece was highlighted by a two-day symposium, titled “The Greek Diaspora: Greek and Canadian Perspectives,” which included a keynote lecture by Professor Sakis Gekas, Assistant Professor, Hellenic Heritage Foundation Chair in Modern Greek History, York University. Audience attendance throughout the event was very strong. The opening addresses, by the speakers listed below, emphasized the importance of exchanging ideas across international boundaries.
Remarks were given by:
- Yiannis Boutaris, Mayor of Thessaloniki
- Pericles A. Mitkas, Rector of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Professor, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Pantelis Petmezas, Honorary Consul of Canada at Thessaloniki
- Dimitris Mavroskoufis, Dean of Faculty of Philosophy, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Professor, School of Philosophy and Education
- Demetra Sfendoni – Mentzou, Professor Emerita of Philosophy of Science, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, President of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Aristotle Studies
- Marilyn Lambert-Drache, Associate Vice-President International, York University, Associate Professor of Linguistics, Department of French Studies, York University
The Greek Canadian History Project’s lecture, “The Making of an Archive: Finding a Home for the History of Greeks in Canada,” given by Professor Gekas, Christopher Grafos, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History, York University, and Kali Petropoulos, GCHP PR Coordinator, was followed by a vibrant discussion between panelists and the audience. Comments and questions towards the presenters were underscored by interest and support for the GCHP’s mandate and a desire for further dissemination of immigrant histories.
While in Athens, the GCHP was invited to speak at the Canadian Institute in Greece (CIG). Professor David Rupp, Director of the CIG, began the evening with a few opening remarks that introduced the audience to the GCHP speakers. The lecture, titled “Memory and Migration: A Glimpse of Greek Immigrant Life in Toronto, 1864 – Present,” spawned an interesting discussion about the cross-pollination of people, ideas, and culture between Canada and Greece and was concluded by a lively reception.
Overall, the GCHP’s reception in Greece was overwhelmingly positive. The merits of the initiative resonated profoundly with audiences in Thessaloniki and Athens and has since provided the impetus for sustained intellectual and cultural exchange between Canada and Greece.