New year's levee for 2007
This event, the Estonian Honourary Consul General's New Years Levee has been a cornerstone of the Estonian community in Toronto since the middle of the 20th century, when Consul Johannes Markus, a career diplomat during the days of Estonian independence, would greet members of the community at his residence. In later years, the event had to be moved to larger accommodations, first the restaurant at Estonian House and eventually to the Crystal Ballroom.
This year the Honourary Consul General Laas Leivat and his wife Ellen, the Assistant Honourary Consul General Thomas Heinsoo and his wife Kristiina manned the reception line for the levee. Around a hundred members of the community arrived to bring in the new year and congratulate the members of the consulate for the work they have done in the past.
One thing of the recent past has been that Consul General Leivat has written a regular column in English in Estonian Life on political issues as they apply to Estonia on behalf of the Estonian Central Council in Canada. That is just one of the many hats that Consul Leivat wears.
The event was catered by the Männama family of Hillside Cafe and the tasteful seasonal decorations were arranged by Ellen Leivat and Kristiina Heinsoo.
As members of the community came into the levee they would put an envelope into the basket behind the reception line. Speakers, representing organizations would also hand over envelopes. Those were cheques to help cover expenses of the consulate, which is not funded by the Estonian government.
The Estonian military was represented by Major Pearo Nõmmik (Army), Lieutenants Tarmo Rae (Air Force) and Ülo Isberg (Army) in uniform and Captain-Major Paavo Loosberg not in uniform.
The official portion of the levee was conducted by Jaan Lepp, leader of the scouting movement, who has been an official in the elections of the Estonian Central Council. Lepp gave a short speech on the significance of the Consulate.
The Reverend Andres Taul gave a short prayer.
Estonian Central Council President Avo Kittask also gave a word and then other, representatives of community organizations said their comments and greetings. Then Laas Leivat spoke, welcoming all and thanking them for their support. Indrek Sarapuu provided cultural flavour by reciting a sonnet written by Bernard Kangro.
The levee has come all the way from the early refugee years of being a home get together to a festive event in the Estonian house. Good luck this year to both Laas Leivat and Thomas Heinsoo.