Announcement for the Allocation of the Wildfire Relief Campaign Funds 2021

The wildfires in Greece had a devastating impact in the lives and livelihood of many residents. The wildfires destroyed extensive areas in Greece’s landscape, nearly defeating efforts by firefighters, residents and volunteers who fought tirelessly against the raging flames.

The Hellenic Initiative Canada (THIC) responded quickly with an emergency wildfire relief campaign, raising $60,000 with the support of friends and donors. Thank you to all for your generosity and philanthropy in support of the people of Greece during this time of need.

All the money raised will go to support those most affected by the wildfires. After considerable due diligence, THIC will be working with two organizations in Greece to implement programs that will provide much-needed food, medical aid and other basic necessities of life to people affected by the wildfires in Northern Evia.

  • THIC Program with Doctors of the World will support emergency response in Northern Evia, providing medical assistance, psychological support, medical consumables, food and other support for low-income families.
  • THIC Program with Desmos will cover the needs in olive oil for 200 low-income beneficiaries residing in villages in Northern Evia.

We wish to acknowledge the contribution of THIC Director and former Canadian Ambassador to Greece, Robert Peck, as well as the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal and the Greek Community of Toronto, for their support and for raising awareness of THIC’s wildfire relief campaign through their network of contacts. Thank you to everyone who joined in our effort to provide relief to people affected by the devasting wildfires in Greece.

THI CANADA WILDFIRE RELIEF – PROGRAM DETAILS

A. Doctors of the world – Chain of Hope for the People of Northern Evia

ONGOING ACTIVITIES. MdM-Greece has recorded and supports 17 fire-affected households, including 17 fresh university students and 69 members of their families, 48 elderly people and people with chronic illnesses, 50 children in school age, 21 farm-workers by providing health, MHPSS services while the financial assistance is provided through Super Market vouchers. During October the Pediatric and Dental Care Unit was conducting missions on the field having a target to cover at least the 40% of the children in the local schools. The total number of primary schools in the area is 17 and the number of kindergartens is 15. The total number of children is estimated up to 873 and the total number of fresh university students up to 71.

The operational plan of MDM-Greece is to remain in the field to respond to the needs of the affected community.

TARGET AUDIENCE

  • Low-income Households
  • Traumatized People
  • Chronic Patients
  • People with Disabilities
  • Elderly
  • Pregnant women
  • Infants
  • Children under 12 years
  • Teens up to 18 years of age
  • Fire affected farm workers

PROVISION OF SERVICES

  • Medical Care including routine checks
  • Acute care for illness or minor injuries
  • Mental Health and Psychosocial Support including trauma
  • rehabilitation
  • Community outreach and management of referrals to specialized care
  • Emergency Pharmaceutical Support
  • Urgent cash assistance based on evaluation of social status for 30 families
  • Provision of Medical Consumables to chronic patients, persons with disabilities, newborn mothers and women in pregnancy
  • Pediatric care


Budget

Expense categoryCost per Unit (EURO)Duration in monthsTOTAL (EURO)TOTAL (CAD)
Medical Services and Support to the Local Health System4,280417,12024,824.00
Mental Health and Psychosocial Support6,160424,64035,728.00
Material aid to low-income households*8,100432,40046,980.00
Management and Administrative support4,260417,04024,708.00
Travel and Mobile Unit costs2,20048,80012,760.00
  PROGRAM TOTAL100,000 145,000.00

Exchange rate: 1 Euro – 1.45 CAD

* The “material aid” includes the following provisions:
– Supermarket Vouchers
– Supplies / equipment to the local / farmers / cooperatives
– Supplies / equipment to the local health centers / social care structures
– PPE supplies and / or equipment to the local schools
THI Canada will provide 30.000 euros (44,400.00 CAD) of the total costs of the program.

B. DESMOS and THI Canada Food aid program for the People of Northern Evia

The Northern Evia areas affected by the 2021 Wildfires have been underprivileged for decades and the fire significantly worsened the region’s duress. The population is dispersed mainly in small villages and highly depends on small scale activities related to the forests that were destroyed, such as bee harvesting, resin cultivations, lodging, agriculture, cattle farming. At the same time, local produce from these activities made these communities self sufficient in terms of basic goods.

Moving into the winter months, N. Evia communities and municipalities have reached out to Desmos with food relief needs. Most urgently, the needs in olive oil, once abundant in the area, are communicated by our partner NGO’s that have been operating in the area, as well as community representatives and residents. Unfortunately, the wildfires, as well as the collateral heat overlaod they caused, destroyed the olive trees and have resulted in loss of olive oil production in the area.

Olive oil is one of the most expensive household food essentials. In partnership with DESMOS we will cover the needs in olive oil for 200 people in the area of Voutas, N. Evia, for 6 months, following the request of the local community and the approval of the municipality. The budget for the implementation of the program is as follows:

Food Relief – 15,000 CDN (10,340€ based on 6/12/21 exchange rates)

CategoryQtyCOSTPopulationDuration
Project Management(Travel, comms,
admin, overhead)
1500 CDN
(1,034€)
6 months
Food Relief – Olive OilApprox. 625 / 4ltr.*13,500 CDN
(9,306€)
6 months
Total Budget15.000 CDN
(10,340€)
200 residents6 months

  

HOPEgenesis welcome newest family member on the island of Kasos

On October 4th, a healthy baby girl was born on Kasos, a small, remote Greek island with a population of just 990 people. This birth, which was supported by THI Canada and HOPEgenesis, is the third of a new program that was launched at the beginning of 2021 to help address some of the lowest birth rates in Greece. It is also the second birth on the island of Kasos following the birth of a baby boy on September 2nd. HOPEgenesis has also shared with us the happy news that we are expecting one more baby on Kasos before the end of 2021.

“Hope for Babies”, the THI Canada and HOPEgenesis program, aims to help young families with low income and limited access to healthcare services who live in remote areas of Greece bring to the world healthy babies. The program covers all pregnancy-related expenses, from medical tests to doctor visits and all birth-related expenses, including transport to and accommodation at the Maternity clinic. All program participants are monitored regularly by dedicated doctors and nurses, who offer them both medical advice and a sense of security during this special period in their lives.

Baby girl born on Kasos, Oct 2021

Baby girl born on Ag. Efstratios, May 2021

Baby boy born on Kasos, Sept 2021

With the support of THI Canada, HOPEgenesis has also provided the beneficiaries of the program with 15 telemedicine devices and tablets that help them monitor their and their babies’ health daily. HOPEgenesis has developed a specialized app, which allows expecting mothers to easily take their readings from telemedicine devices that are connected to tablets via Bluetooth, and keeps records of their readings over time. The results are then shared with their doctors to advise on any medication or medical care needed.

Below are pictures of some of the recipients while being trained on how to use their assigned devices.

Under its program “Greece against low-birth rate”, HOPEgenesis’ long-term goals include programs that will further help new families by providing child day-care and family support centres, creating employment opportunities, and offering the continued support new families require. As their isolated communities grow and their population increases, we can also look forward to new schools, children’s activities centres and new business growth strengthening the local economies. The young couples residing in these communities, who were at one point even considering moving, now have an important motive – some much-needed support – to stay and start their families at the place where they grew up themselves.  

New Leader Ambassador Marissa Papaconstantinou

Introducing THI Canada New Leaders Ambassador Paralympic Bronze Medalist Marissa Papaconstantinou

Being born without a right foot has never got in the way of Marissa Papaconstantinou pursuing what she wanted to achieve in life. Originally a soccer and basketball player, Marissa fell in love with track after being fitted for her first running prosthetic (blade) at the age of 12 at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital (whom she is currently a proud ambassador for).

Marissa joined a local track club in Scarborough, the city she calls home, becoming a Canadian record holder just a year later. She competed in her first World Championships at 16 years of age, making it to the finals of both the 100m and 200m. At the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, Marissa finished 9th in the 100m but was disqualified during the 200m finals for stepping on the line. Seeking redemption at the 2017 World Championships, Marissa placed 6th in the 100m. Then while sprinting to the finish line in podium position in the 200m, Marissa tore her hamstring. Despite agonizing pain and heartbreak, she got up and finished the race in dramatic fashion, with the support of 40,000 cheering fans. Images from that moment went viral on social media all around the world.

Fully recovered from her injury, Marissa carried the momentum from a Canadian record T64 200m run set at the 2021 Toronto High Performance Twilight event to an incredible performance at the Tokyo Paralympics. Breaking the Canadian record again with a 27.08 second run in the T64 200m event, Marissa went on to win a Bronze Medal in the T64 100m event with another personal best and Canadian record time of 13.07 seconds.

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

When we asked her to share something that inspires her, Marissa provided us with the quote from Kobe Bryant: “Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise”. It reminded us of an Aristotle teaching, that “You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honour. We can vouch that Marissa is a living example of living by courage, and for this she serves as an inspiration to us all!

Off the track, Marissa is studying sports media at Ryerson University with aspirations of becoming a sports broadcaster. She is also a proud dog mom to Myles, a cockapoo. Marissa is an experienced public speaker sharing her messages and experiences to youth about never giving up, resiliency, and believing anything is possible.

We are excited to be announcing Marissa Papaconstantinou’s new Ambassador role for The Hellenic Initiative Canada’s New Leaders section, and we look forward to working with her on our exciting future plans!

Fund στον Καναδά για τους πυρόπληκτους στην Ελλάδα με «άρωμα» Energean

Published on Liberal.gr August 19, 2021

Οικονομική βοήθεια για τους πληγέντες από τις καταστροφικές φωτιές των προηγούμενων ημερών στην Ελλάδα φιλοδοξεί να συγκεντρώσει fund με έδρα τον Καναδά. Πρόκειται για το The Hellenic Initiative (Canada) το οποίο φέρει, πλέον, και την σφραγίδα μιας πολυεθνικής που ξεκίνησε να δραστηριοποιείται στην χώρα μας και έχει πλέον επεκταθεί σε 9 χώρες.

Ο λόγος για την Energean και τον πρώην Πρέσβη του Καναδά στην Ελλάδα Ρόμπερτ Πεκ, ο οποίος είναι ανεξάρτητο μέλος του διοικητικού συμβουλίου της εισηγμένης στα χρηματιστήρια του Λονδίνου και του Τελ Αβίβ εταιρείας και ο οποίος ορίστηκε ως επίτιμος Διευθυντής του THI Canada, έχοντας υπηρετήσει επί 35 χρόνια την καναδική διπλωματία και διαθέτοντας μακρά εμπειρία σε κοινωφελείς πρωτοβουλίες.

Ο Ρ. Πεκ, σε δηλώσεις του στο κανάλι που διατηρεί στο Youtube το δημοφιλές ελληνοκαναδικό The Doralicious Show, ανέφερε ότι η Ελλάδα κατάφερε να βγει ισχυρότερη από την οικονομική κρίση, ωστόσο κτυπήθηκε στη συνέχεια, όπως και όλος ο κόσμος από την πανδημία, ενώ τώρα έρχεται αντιμέτωπη με τις καταστροφικές πυρκαγιές και τις συνέπειές τους.

«Η χώρα έχει εύθραυστο οικοσύστημα το οποίο αγαπούμε και θαυμάζουμε, και θα απαιτηθεί μια πολύ συγκροτημένη προσπάθεια, παράλληλα με το κυβερνητικό σχέδιο. Η οικονομική βοήθεια θα κατευθυνθεί σε οργανισμούς που θα δραστηριοποιηθούν στις περιοχές για την αντιμετώπιση αναγκών, οι οποίες μπορεί τώρα να μην είναι πλήρως αντιληπτές» τόνισε χαρακτηριστικά.

Ο ίδιος πρόσθεσε ότι το ΤΗΙ (Canada) δεν έχει τη λογική της άμεσης ανακούφισης των πληγέντων, καθώς είναι οι κυβερνήσεις που αντιμετωπίζουν αυτές τις ανάγκες. Η προσπάθεια θα εστιαστεί στην κάλυψη μεσοπρόθεσμων και μακροπρόθεσμων αναγκών που θα καταγραφούν.

«Σε κάθε κρίση, η πρώτη προτεραιότητα είναι να σωθούν οι ανθρώπινες ζωές και να αντιμετωπισθεί άμεσα η καταστροφή. Στην πορεία ωστόσο διαπιστώνονται ανάγκες για την υποστήριξη των θυμάτων και κάτι τέτοιο θα απαιτήσει κάποιο χρόνο και, βεβαίως, συνεργασία με οργανισμούς που θα δραστηριοποιηθούν στην Ελλάδα, ώστε να διασφαλίσουμε ότι η βοήθεια που θα συγκεντρωθεί θα έχει τη μεγαλύτερη δυνατή επίδραση και θα φτάσει με διαφάνεια και αποτελεσματικότητα σε αυτούς που έχουν την μεγαλύτερη ανάγκη», επεσήμανε ο Ρ. Πεκ.

Ο βετεράνος διπλωμάτης ανάφερε επίσης ότι υπάρχει σημαντική προσδοκία για συμμετοχή των Ελλήνων της διασποράς στην προσπάθεια, η οποία ουσιαστικά θεωρεί ότι λειτουργεί και στο γενικότερο πλαίσιο της προσπάθειας ενίσχυσης της Ελλάδας μέσω της επιστροφής στην χώρα διακεκριμένων Ελλήνων που έφυγαν στο εξωτερικό στο διάστημα της κρίσης, της προώθησης της επιχειρηματικότητας και της ανάδειξης της αριστείας.

«Για όλους αυτούς τους λόγους, θεώρησα το IHE (Canada) ως μια πρωτοβουλία ιδανική για να δραστηριοποιηθώ εθελοντικά» κατέληξε ο Ρ. Πεκ, ο οποίος σημειώνεται ότι στην Energean είναι επικεφαλής της επιτροπής Περιβάλλοντος, Κοινωνίας και Εταιρικής Διακυβέρνησης.

THI Canada Works with HOPEgenesis to Reverse Negative Birth Rate of Greece

Published on The National Herald August 4, 2021

Since the start of The Hellenic Initiative Canada’s collaboration with HOPEgenesis early in 2021, the first baby was born on Agios Efstratios. Photo: The Hellenic Initiative Canada8/4/2021 The National Herald

TORONTO, Canada – Greece has been moving towards a demographic deadlock and research indicates that the birth-to-death ratio in Greece is negative. It is estimated that by 2050 Greece’s population will have fallen to 6.5-8 million citizens from 10.8 million today. According to official data of the Hellenic Statistical Authority, in 2019 Greece reported 83,763 births compared to 124,965 deaths, resulting in a dramatic population decline.

The Hellenic Initiative (THI) Canada is collaborating with HOPEgenesis to cover medical monitoring and birth related costs for women living in remote areas of Greece. The initial focus of the collaboration is the support of the islands of Kasos, Iraklia and Agios Efstratios, as well as the purchase of 15 telemedicine devices, to provide the program beneficiaries with access to remote medical monitoring and consultation services through a specially designed platform. The program hopes to bring 8-10 new births per year of implementation on the islands, setting the foundations for future generations to populate the islands and incentives for younger people to stay at their birthplace.

The program was implemented in the beginning of 2021 and in April the first baby was born on Agios Efstratios, after four months, spreading hope in the local communities of the remote islands. As HOPEgenesis’ motto states: “Together we give hope to mothers, who give hope to our future. One child at a time.”

Agios Efstratios is a small island in the northern Aegean Sea with a population of 270 people and a birth balance of -3, making the first birth into the program a significant one for the local community.

In addition to the news of the first baby born into the program, HOPEgenesis announced that three additional beneficiaries from the island of Kasos who entered the program are expected to give birth in September, October, and December 2021.

Since the start of The Hellenic Initiative Canada’s collaboration with HOPEgenesis early in 2021, the first baby was born on Agios Efstratios. Photo: The Hellenic Initiative Canada

If you would like to be involved: To further support this new program for The Hellenic Initiative, the THI Canada New Leaders launched the Flowers for HOPE fundraising campaign. The fundraiser aims to provide funds for the purchase of 15 telemedicine device packages for pregnant women on remote islands of Greece. Each package will contain Bluetooth devices that monitor blood glucose and blood pressure, and a cardiograph device. The goal is to help pregnant women stay healthy and safe throughout their pregnancy without worrying about the expenses. We invite you to participate by sending a bouquet of flowers to someone special.

Hellenic Initiative Canada - Webinar with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias

Ioannis Dedes
Undergraduate B.A. Student | Freelance Creative Writer and Copywriter | Social Media Contributor | SEO Editor

On Wednesday, I had the honor to attend a webinar that I will remember for a long, long time. Organized by Hellenic Initiative Canada, this was projected to be a conversation with Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Prime Minister of Greece. Even though he could not make it to the event, since he had a meeting with the President of the Hellenic Republic, the webinar was in no way less exciting or important. Nikos Dendias, the former Minister of National Defence and current Foreign Minister of Greece, ‘stood up’ for the challenge and was the Greek government representative for the webinar.

The webinar started with the Co-President of the Organisation, John Sotos, and the introduction of the former Canadian Ambassador in Greece and current Honorary Director of the organization, Robert Peck. The first segment started with the role of Greece in the European and International political stage. The former Ambassador started analyzing the Greek Canadian and the Canadian firms that have invested in the ‘booming’ industries of Greece and the future of the new infrastructure and the seaplanes model.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs started with a statement for the first ‘seaplanes’ and the Canadian contribution to tourism development in Greece. The comments that followed were about the difficulty of providing a Canadian financial investment to creating opportunities and jobs in Greece, regardless of the financial crisis. 

It is significant to state that the bond created between the two countries and the multifaceted cultural points were the aspects that will push the economy of the European country out of the socio-economic issues. The next part was about diplomacy and the multilateral friendship with all the Mediterranean countries and moving towards a peaceful and international stage of politics.

“We cannot change the world but we can try”

After the question of diplomacy, there is a mild discussion and relations between Greece and Turkey. It is significant to state that the government of PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis did not expect such a hostile environment between the neighboring countries along with the refugee crisis. Turkey’s reasonable behavior is coming back, and there is an effort to ‘sit at the table’ and continue the bilateral discussions for cooperation.

The strategy and the principles of the UN Security Council, the Biden Administration, and the global powers’ approach as a whole has helped Greece. Nonetheless, it is too early to talk about the Turkish people in Cyprus practicing peace and the Turkish government ending the aggressive tactics in the Mediterranean altogether. The agreement of negotiation in the European Union has been facing all types of obstacles after the pandemic, the financial world’s problems, and the answer to today’s health issues. The government’s position in Greece is covered by the statement “Vaccination is a Human Right.” Although Greece is not a big country and cannot take leadership, it can significantly change and contribute to a better beginning of the decade.

The second segment started with the Greek Canadians’ topic and the citizens of the diaspora, introduced by Katerina Sokou, the communications director of the Canadian organization. The topic started with the question of the measures about strengthening the relations and the well-being of the Greek diaspora communities abroad. 

The government’s long-term strategy is based on promoting the Greek culture, and various events, including the new network of interactive learning of raising awareness for the European country’s aspects, are of enormous importance. More than 500,000 young citizens left Greece due to the financial crisis and followed their studies abroad, which is not a pleasant change since, according to the Minister, it was not their choice, but they were obliged.

The answer to the question of embracing all Greek communities outside Greece is one: digitalization. The current government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis is working to communicate and help all people use technology to cover all civil and bureaucratic issues. The segment moved on for the board of trade and the question of supporting the Greek exporters and the trading scheme’s operation. In the past, the imports that were coming in were handled by the Minister of development. Now, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has created a new direction for the preparation of trade growth. The government is also trying to support all contributions to the Greek economy while simultaneously increasing the number of investments.

The country of Greece will not survive if the imports continue to outweigh the exports, which is why the government of Mitsotakis is working to help the enterprise find a home abroad and, more importantly, in Canada. The Greek government provides the funds and the know-how, and it’s part of an ongoing process to create a financial aid scheme, which still has a long way to go.

The minister understands that the economy needs a scheme of modernization, and the problems of Greek bureaucracy are working as an obstacle of the Greeks being abroad and thinking about expanding their business in their home country. 

The answer to this issue is, once again, modernization. Additionally, the creation of a sustainable and environmentally friendly plan is also of equal importance. 

The human capital is what makes the difference in the 21st century, and the government believes in the new generation of Greece; the experience of the Greeks in diaspora and their return to the home country would provide immense value to the people who want a smooth transition in the previously financially harmed country.

The next question was based on tourism problems and the COVID-19 obstacle to the revenues generated from the summer’s Greek seasonal economy. The government’s first principle is to regulate travel through the green certificate and the registration of welcoming safe and vaccinated tourists. The government expects the opening of the industry only if the human life of the visitors is protected. 

During the efforts of protecting the population, the Greek government hopes to understand the Israel and Cyprus government’s efforts and apply a similar kind of model. Then, the focus shifted on parliamentary diplomacy and the connection between the Greeks and the Canadians; it would be a handy tool to correlate the two sides’ interest and the generation of opportunities for the Ministers between the two countries.

“The ocean may divide the countries, but the values between the countries may build a bridge.”

The challenges of COVID-19 affected the diplomatic relations and the contacts between the countries that negotiated with Greece. Regardless of the risk, the Minister of Affairs had to keep up the level of human contact and meet under acrimonious restrictions. Teleconferences are a great way to make contact possible between the two sides but the actual ‘conference meetings’ help more diplomats connect. 

After the pandemic ends, the government will capitalize on the close contacts of the greeks in the home country and the people abroad, especially in Canada. The universities’ use will also be valuable for the future of bilateral relations and the projects of participating in great projects for all Greeks throughout the world.

The concluding remarks from Dendias started with discussing all these essential issues and stressed the importance of the Greeks abroad and the friends of Greece expressing their ideas and engaging for the better bond of the two countries. Better connections would benefit both countries, and the possibilities for political, legal, and economic growth are endless.

Athens and Epidaurus Festival Online

Saturday, July 25th, 2020

Time: 2:00 pm EST

This year for the first time ever the Athens and Epidaurus Festival will be broadcasting live on the internet, free of charge, the play “PERSIANS” by Aeschylus, staged at the ancient theater of Epidaurus.

On the occasion of the 2500th anniversary of the Battle of Salamis The National Theater with the support of the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports will present to the international public the tragedy Perseus of Aeschylus.

The live streaming of the show will take place with English subtitles and will last about 90 minutes. It will be available at www.livefromepidaurus.gr as well as through the websites of the National Theater, the Athens and Epidaurus Festival and the Ministry of Culture and Sports, and directly from the National Theater’s YouTube channel.

About the play “The Persians” by Aeschylus

The Persians (472 BC) is the oldest complete drama surviving today and at the same time a historical document about the most important conflict of the second Persian invasion of Greece, the naval battle of Salamis. One of the most decisive battles in the history of mankind is the issue of the tragedy of Aeschylus, who took part in it.

In Susa, the capital of Persia, the elders who have remained in the rear, faithful guardians of the glorious palaces of Xerxes, are worried about their army attempting to campaign against Greece, as no news has arrived about the outcome of the military mission.

The impressively numerous forces that make up the Persian army with the resounding names of its leaders and the god-given power of their king, are not enough to allay the anxiety of the elders, who know that the impenetrable web of Deception deceives people and leads them to doom.

The anxiety culminates when Queen Atossa, Xerxes’ mother, the leader of the campaign, and the wife of the dead Darius, recounts her ominous dream: Xerxes tried to snatch a Greek woman and an Asian woman in his chariot, but the Greek woman broke his bond and king. The arrival of the panting messenger confirms the bad feelings: the whole Persian army was annihilated. The Greeks won.

The detailed account of the defeat of the Persians ends with the extensive description of the naval battle of Salamis, the flight of Xerxes and the bad luck of the rest of the army, which tried to return by land.

The symbol of the glorious past, King Darius, appears from Hades in response to the invocations of the chthonic powers and the lamentations of the Persians. The deceased king’s interpretation of destruction attributes the responsibilities to Xerxes’ arrogance and his insult to nature and the gods. The arrival of the ragged defeated king, in stark contrast to Darius’ previous glorious presence, completes the image of doom. Praise for the achievements of the past turns into lamentations and sorrows for the present, and culminates in suffering in the once glorious Persian palace.

Freedom Besieged Calgary

The Hellenic Initiative Canada and the Greek Community of Calgary welcomes Four-time Olympic medallist legend Pyrros Dimas and raise funds to support SOS Children’s Villages Greece.

Calgary, Alberta

Greek Olympic champion and legend in weightlifting Pyrros Dimas, was welcomed with enthusiasm and emotion at the first event in Western Canada co-hosted by The Hellenic Initiative Canada and the Greek Community of Calgary on Wednesday, Oct. 2.

The event featured the screening of a documentary by Greek-Canadian director Panagiotis Yannitsos titled “Freedom Besieged: Unshackling the Youth of Greece” about the impact of the financial crisis on Greek youth and the search for creative ways out. In an effort to build the new generation’s lost communication bridge in Greece with the world around them, the documentary captures individual and collective initiatives that create hope for the future. At the same time, it is targeting experts, scientists and politicians to document the solutions they offer – from intellectual Noam Chomsky to communications expert Peter Economides.

The post-crisis debate on film and Greece that followed the screening, with the rising filmmaker stressing that his intention was to allow all voices to be heard, whether that was the voice of 15 year-old boy or Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. A special role in the film was played by Greek-Canadian volunteer coach Kiveri Basketball Camp, John Karkalatos and athletes such as George Karagounis, Dimitris Diamantidis and Pyrros Dimas, who have successfully sparked national pride and inspired young Greeks of the diaspora.

Pyrros Dimas received the admiration of the young students of the Calgary Greek Community School, whose evening classes he attended before the event. In a thrilling atmosphere, he watched the children sing the national anthem and visited them in their classrooms. During the discussion, he also talked about how he sees Greece from Chicago, where he currently is Technical Director for the US weightlifting team. His answer was: “More beautiful but with problems”. Mr. Dimas was involved in politics and commented that he “never regretted taking a stand” as in 2012 he felt compelled to join the then government’s effort to help the country, adopting a non-negotiable stance against racism and a bold position in favor of Greece’s European future in the 2015 referendum.

A special highlight of the event was when he was awarded a white cowboy hat at the famous White Hat Ceremony by Calgary City authorities for its distinguished visitors, as an indication of the famous Western hospitality. Mr. Dimas was awarded a gold wreath from THI Canada. The president of the organization, Alexander Georgiadis, stressed that Greece may have turned a page, but the social and economic problems created by the crisis remain intense, and invited attendees to be inspired by the example of their compatriot John Karkalatos, to do what they can to help Greece’s recovery.

It is noted that all the proceeds of the event will be donated to the SOS Children’s Villages Babies Home in Greece. Thomas Bauer, President and CEO of SOS Children’s Villages of Canada, expressed his gratitude and talked about the important social work of the charity in Greece, Canada and worldwide. Mr. Dimas noted that he has been a supporter of SOS Children’s Villages Greece since the beginning of his athletic career in Greece and as their ambassador knows firsthand the importance of the social service they offer, especially in times of crisis, when many families no longer have the financial means to provide even the necessary things to their children.

THI Canada is the latest addition to The Hellenic Initiative’s global network. It was founded in the summer of 2016 to add the contribution of Canada and its historic Greek community to the worldwide effort of the diaspora and the philhellenes to assist Greece to recover from the unprecedented financial crisis.


The Greek Community of Calgary was founded 62 years ago, and this year it is celebrating its 60th anniversary since the founding of the Greek Orthodox Church of Agios Dimitrios. The community serves the cultural and religious needs of approximately 7,000 Greek-speaking residents.

Contact the discussion moderator and board member for more details regarding THI Canada, Katerina Sokou at Email: [email protected]

THI Canada to support the Giannitsa Soup Kitchen in Greece

The Hellenic Initiative Canada (THI Canada) through a generous donation from the Eleni and Vasileios Ifandis Charitable Foundation supports the work of the Giannitsa Soup Kitchen providing daily meals to children in need with a grant of $25,000 CAD. Giannitsa, a city of 40,000 in Northern Greece is proud of its community of volunteers inspired by Fr. Spyridis, the tireless champion of those in need.

Volunteers prepare meals and deliver them daily; they run the “community supermarket”, providing goods and food for 150 families. They provide lessons in music, dance, photography, first aid, hold classes to prepare students to gain acceptance at the university; and offer consultations and medications for free.

The Giannitsa Soup kitchen is a special caring facility efficiently run by Fr. Spyridis and his team of volunteers. Maria Petala, has been volunteering at the soup kitchen for more than 10 years and she feels blessed for being able to help in this way.

People with children that have no income or an income of less than 5,000 euros can register to receive daily meals. The community centre has classrooms and facilities to accommodate learning for 400 children supported by 80 volunteer teachers.

People that cannot afford healthcare or medicine can register at the medical and pharmaceutical centre to receive medical care from volunteer doctors. Currently there are 200 people registered for free healthcare.

The “community supermarket” operates twice a week in order to assist 150 families that have registered to receive help. People donate goods and food to the “market” and then everything is redistributed to those in need. The need of each family is assessed separately, according to their income and the number of family members, and a monthly voucher is provided.

Volunteer English teacher, Ms. Dorcas Kirigo, who moved to Giannitsa in 2004, originally from Kenya stated: “People here are very good. They helped me and welcomed me with so much love and when you receive this love, you also want to give it back, so this is why I decided to volunteer here. The work that is being done here is extremely important because the people need it. The classes for the students help change their futures. ….the crisis has brought the community together. People opened their hearts and they are giving whatever they have.”

Ms. Eleni Ifandis, THI Canada’s benefactor, living most of her adult life in Toronto, has never forgotten the people back in Greece, the children that have nothing for Christmas, and the people now living in poverty. “I only wish more people would care to do more to help feed children in Greece” said Ms. Ifandis.

Fr. Spyridis and his team of volunteers, through their charitable work enable people in need to care for their families and cover their essential needs while maintaining their dignity.

—————————

The Hellenic Initiative Canada is a charitable organization that seeks to alleviate poverty in Greece by providing funds to trusted organizations to deliver food, health care and other related services to those in need.

For more information, visit our website at ca.thehellenicinitiative.org or contact Victoria Bucovala, Director of Operations, THI Canada [email protected] +1-416-572-7324