The 29th annual Canadian Ethnic Media Association (CEMA — formerly the Canadian Ethnic Journalists and Writers Club) awards event took place this year on June 22, 2007 at the Velma Rogers Graham Theatre, at 333 Bloor Street East. Estonian Marcus Kolga won for his television documentary GULAG 113.
GULAG 113 documents the superhuman saga of Kolga's grandfather, Eduard Kolga's deportation to Siberia, where one third of the deportees died, and his equally superhuman trip back to Estonia. When Estonia again fell to the Communists, Eduard and his family escaped, finally by a small fishing boat to Canada. The communist government at Estonia so hated Eduard Kolga that he was sentenced to death in abstentia.
Print, radio, television and internet accomplishments were each honoured with two awards. As well, the Sierhey Khamara (Marian) Ziniak Award was presented for work promoting ethnoculturalism. This year’s Ziniak Award went to John Nicholls, who worked for provincial and federal governments, quietly, in the background, for people of the third solitude.
Marcus Kolga thanked CEMA for this great honour and proceeded on with his thank you speech.
"When I first approached my grandfather three years ago, with the idea of returning to GULAG camp 113, in the far north of Russia, he was quite hesitant."
"Would the Russian government arrest him for having escaped from the GULAG and Red Army 60 years before? At the age of 89, would he be able to endure the long trip to Kotlas? Thank you Eduard, for sharing your story with Canadians, and since then, the world."
"Thank you to OMNI Television, to Madeline Ziniak, Malcolm Dunlop, Paritosh Mehta and Vicki Giannace for their support of this project. Without their ongoing commitment to diversity and telling of so many of our stories GULAG 113 would survive as just another Soviet camp in a list of thousands in a Russian archive. Thanks to OMNI, Eduard's suffering was not in vain."
"Thanks too, to the Estonian community for supporting and accepting this film."
"To my editing partner Heikki Novek and to Jaan Silmberg for his support and camera work."
"And finally, my eternal thanks to my family, Lief and Laas and my chief patron and wife Monika, without whose constant support and love, I would not have been able to tell this - or any other story."
"A final note. At the end of April, Estonia relocated a Soviet era monument in the capital of Tallinn. Vladimir Putin's aggressive response was to sponsor violent rioting in Tallinn, attacks on the Estonian Embassy in Moscow and to ostensibly mount a cyber war offensive against Estonia."
"I'd like to thank a great friend of the Estonian and Baltic communities, who has been one of Estonia's —and this film's — biggest supporters in Ottawa, Liberal MP Bryon Wilfert without whose selfless concern and outspokenness on Estonia's crisis, the current government would have allowed this renewed aggression to go unchecked."
"Again, I am deeply honoured, thank you."
The awards event will be shown on both OMNI channels. The times are Saturday July 14, 2007 7pm on OMNI II; Sunday July 15, 2007 9pm OMNI I; Wednesday July 18, 2007 9am OMNI II.
Marcus Kolga wins CEMA award for GULAG 113 (2)