Kotkajärve Metsaülikool (Forest University) statement August 26, 2017 – Kotkajärve, Muskoka, Canada
On the 50th anniversary of Kotkajärve Metsaülikool (MÜ), and as the Republic of Estonia approaches its centennial in 2018, the participants of MÜ2017 send their greetings and congratulations to Estonians around the world.
• A key theme of the Metsaülikool program this year was indigenous peoples. We note that, worldwide, indigenous people have been highly successful advocates for and conservers of their natural environments, cultures and languages. We suggest that Estonians consider pursuing recognition as the indigenous people of their ethnic and linguistically historical territory.
• Since one fifth of Estonians (approximately 200,000) live abroad – some intermittently – we suggest considering the formation of one (or more) electoral constituencies for expatriate citizens. Estonians abroad aspire just as passionately as those in the homeland to contribute to the stability and prosperity of our historic homeland and people. They want to more effectively apply their subject matter expertise and international experience for the benefit of Estonia and its people. While expatriates live abroad for a variety of reasons, they have not disappeared, and Estonia could leverage their expertise and experience to enhance Estonia’s profile and impact internationally.
• We feel there is an urgent need for the global Estonian website (working title Estica – Global Estonia), currently being developed by specialists in both Estonia and in expatriate communities. We offer our full assistance for completion of this website, and call upon likeminded supporters to add their financial and intellectual contributions.
• We also call on Estonian scholars and subject matter experts to contribute articles to both the Estonian-language Vikipeedia and the English-language Wikipedia, the world’s primary online source of information about Estonia, its history, language and culture. We support the goal of adding at least one million Estonian-language articles to Vikipeedia by 2020, and increasing Estonian-related content in other languages. As of August 25, 2017, 160,000 articles had been posted on Vikipeedia; the level of expanded and new content will indicate how much we value the importance of Estonian-language content in Vikipeedia.
Kotkajärve Metsaülikool (Forest University) was established a half-century ago by young Estonians in Canada concerned about Soviet-occupied Estonia and interested in preserving Estonian culture and language among their compatriots. Since 1967, more than 2,000 individuals from North America, Australia, New Zealand and Europe – including Estonia – have attended Metsaülikool. Today, Metsaülikool welcomes anyone who is interested in any aspect of Estonian culture and language. The primary goal of Metsaülikool is language retention in Estonian communities abroad by teaching the language and providing the opportunity to communicate in an immersion environment.
Kotkajärve Metsaülikool has inspired similar initiatives in Sweden, Australia, the United States, and Estonia, all of which have helped us and others to better understand Estonian history, politics and culture. Metsaülikool is now an established bridge between Estonia and its communities abroad.
For more information, please contact:
- Olev Träss 1-416-656-5387
- Maimu Mölder 1-416-421-3812
In the United States:
-Sirje Kiin 1-605-270-1391
-Indrek Park 1-812-855-4123