Alberta Estonian Heritage Society goes digital and plans Jaanipäev
Archived Articles 12 Apr 2007 Helgi LeesmentEWR
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The Alberta Estonian Heritage Society (AEHS) will use grant funds to professionally prepare a half-hour documentary on the history of Alberta Estonians.

The Society is very grateful to the National Estonian Foundation of Canada (Eesti Sihtkapital Kanadas) for a $17,200 grant. Formal approval of another major grant application, submitted under the Community Initiatives Program of Alberta, has just been received in the amount of $50,070. The AEHS itself has allocated $3,000 toward the production of the DVD. Together, these amounts will be adequate for a professional-quality DVD and the development of an Estonian Community website project on the Alberta Online Encyclopedia. The Alberta Estonian Heritage Society holds Dave Kiil in high regard for his work in preparing all the documents for the grant application submissions.

The finished historical documentary DVD, with a focus on three unique Estonian communities established in the province starting in 1899, will be debuted at the Los Angeles Estonian Days festival (Lääneranniku Eesti Päevad) this August where the AEHS will present a 1_ hour program. That program will also include a readers’ theatre production telling the story of one Estonian immigrant family who embarked on a three-month journey of 2,400 km from Paide to Crimea in 1861, lived in Crimea for 40 years, immigrated to South Dakota in the USA, and a few years later began a renewed life for the third time, near Barons in southern Alberta. There will be a question-answer session and time to chat with some of the pioneer descendants. For some Albertans, this festival will be their first major Estonian cultural event. Many have traveled to Estonia, having been inspired by the late President Meri’s visit to the Stettler area Estonian community in the year 2000. Certainly this will be the first time any program by or about descendants of North American pioneer Estonians is presented at the West Coast event.

At the February 10 meeting of the AEHS, an experienced documentary director/producer explained some of the techniques to be used in creating the DVD storyline. To this end, for the last six months, Albertans have been taking new photos and collecting old ones for scanning into a computer. We are looking for videotapes or videoclips of interesting events. We are also digitizing a selection of important documents and will be doing fresh interviews and videotaping of familiar Estonian-related places in Alberta. Several members are systematically contacting and searching various archives in Canada and Estonia for relevant materials.

This historical project is ably led by Ain Dave Kiil of Edmonton. Anyone having materials of possible interest to the AEHS are kindly asked to contact Dave at 3229 - 112C St NW, Edmonton, AB T6J 3W2 Tel: 780-988-0019 or email: . He can also be reached using Skype.

During the February 10th meeting, attended by 17 AEHS members, two long-standing Alberta Estonian organizations carried out their final transactions. Calgary Estonian Society’s last treasurer, Jüri Kraav, handed over a cheque transferring the balance of the Society’s bank account to the Alberta Estonian Heritage Society’s first treasurer, Toomas Pääsuke. The Edmonton Estonian Society’s last executive members, Eda McClung and Dave Kiil, carried out the same transaction. Now both of these city-based organizations are officially defunct. Both passed their mandate to the provincially-based organization.

Another item on the AEHS agenda at this recent meeting was planning for Jaanipäev which will be held on Saturday, June 16 at Lincoln Hall, near Gull Lake amongst surrounding farms in central Alberta. It will be a one day event, including a Roast Pig Feast provided by Big Pig Catering. Those lucky to have attended the 2001 Gilby Centennial in the Medicine Valley will recall the fantastic dinner served by this group.

There will be an opening ceremony, games, a reader’s theatre, time to chat, musical entertainment, and evening dance music provided by the Garry Raabis band, one of several pioneer Estonian descendants active in music. All are invited. Pre-paid reservations are needed. Detailed information and advance registration forms will be available in the near future. Anyone wishing to be put on the list to receive these forms, please contact either Eda McClung at tel. 780-452-2712 email: or Helgi Leesment at tel. 403-217-0515 or email . Helgi can also be reached via Skype.
 
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