The Estonian Central Council in Canada urges all, who feel ethnically so inclined, to acknowledge their Estonian heritage in the Canadian population census scheduled for May 16th.
Why? Because a Canadian ethnocultural community perceived to be growing in numbers can easier make their concerns and wishes known to the government powers that be. Canadians of Estonian heritage, due to their miniscule numbers when compared to Ukrainians, Sri Lankans or Thais carry an extra demographic burden when contacting politicians to make their viewpoint known or to prompt action on an issue. There aren’t sufficient numbers in any one federal or provincial riding or municipal ward to muster even a swing vote.
A community that exhibits signs of growth, stability and long term sustainability is probably a more attractive cultural environment with which the younger generation could identify, as opposed to one seemingly assigned to stagnation and decline. A dynamic society would probably attract more of those willing to expend effort and participate, and a willingness to contribute to its activities.
The Estonian Consulate in Toronto explained that interest in the acquisition of Estonian passports was not a passing phase, a novelty following the re establishment of Estonian independence. Interest in applying for passports is steady, especially amongst the younger generation who could be third generation Canadian citizens affirming their ancestral heritage as Estonian.
For some of these applicants the motivation seems to be practical – the future possibility of gaining a job or higher education within the European Union. However most show authentic pride in getting official confirmation of their ethnic roots via the Estonian passports. They’re not just the “hapukapsas and verivorst” type patriot claiming ties to an ancient and quaint culture with colourful folk-dress and large song festivals. Their nationalism is deeply rooted and fervently expressed.
The 2001 Canadian census resulted in 8,720 individuals who claimed Estonian to be their mother tongue. Concurrently 22,085 people on the same census professed to have Estonian heritage. Obviously mother tongue is not the only determining factor for many whose self-identity is Estonian.
The Estonian Central Council in Canada kindly recommends all to “proclaim” their Estonian heritage and to request relatives and friends to do likewise, when completing the May 16th Canadian census questionnaire.
On May 16th tell Census Canada of your Estonian heritage (7)