For all the memorable elements of Saturday February 23 at the Toronto Estonian House the music is what will linger on. That last was provided by the jazz quartet of Tõnu Naissoo, the son of the Estonian legend Uno Naissoo. Vocalist Anna Põldvee provided exquisite renditions, many of them Estonian compositions. The other members of the combo were Taavo Remmel - bass, Toomas Rull - drums and Meelis Vind - bass clarinet.
Their efforts were noteworthy at this year’s Estonian Independence Day reception, an annual event, this time in tuxedos and long gowns to mark the 90th anniversary of that important day.
The Honourable Peter Van Loan, (Estonian on his mother's side), the House Leader and Minister of Government Reform, brought greetings from Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He told several stories that showed insight into the workings of the federal government. Estonia became a visa-free country before the other Baltic countries - this not because Van Loan was (at that time) the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Foreign Affairs - but because Estonia was ready before the others. When the Canadian Government was preparing to remove legations from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Van Loan went to Harper, who agreed that this was not to happen. Despite that civil servants still tried three times to close the legations.
Tony Ruprecht, (Lib, MPP) brought greetings from Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. New Democratic Party MPP Michael Prue, formerly the Mayor of East York, wearing his Estonian Central Council Medal of Merit also was present.
City of Toronto (Scarborough) Councillor Michael Thompson of Ward 37, arrived with architect Thomas Tampõld and extended greetings from the City of Toronto Mayor David Miller.
The Honourable Bryon Wilfert, Liberal Member of Parliament for Richmond Hill, Official Opposition Associate Critic for Foreign Affairs was presented with the Estonian Central Council Medal of Merit for his speech in the house condemning the Russian riots in Tallinn during April 2007.
The Honourable Sarmite Bulte, who is running for the Liberal nomination in Don Valley West, was at the reception with her husband. She deserves mention because when she was a sitting member for Parkdale-High Park, she was a hard worker for the Baltic cause.
With other political and diplomatic persons present (listed in the Estonian section) one would be remiss not mentioning award winning filmmaker Markus Kolga and his wife Monica. He is in the midst of another project, about the Soviets torpedoing a passenger ship in the Baltic Sea during WW II, which is bound to be as good as his "Gulag 113".
Epp Luik (formerly president of the Montreal Estonian Society while attending the University of Montreal) brought along three non-Estonian friends who obviously had the time of their life.
The evening was a great success. Then again, what else is new?
Reception marking the 90th anniversary of Estonian independence