On Saturday, March 6th the Estonian Foundation of Canada’s AGM was held in the Estonian House Crystal Hall. The meeting was directed by re-elected President Lia Hess and Eva Varangu, re-elected as vice-president, took the minutes for the meeting.
The well attended AGM, comprising Board members, EFC members, and other community members, reviewed the previous year’s fiscal summaries, reflected on the Estonian community activities throughout Canada, and looked ahead into the organization and community’s future.
Andres Taul, EFC board member, took a few moments at the beginning of the meeting to remember Valdu Lillakas, EFC member, who passed away in 2009. He also shared an overview on the Foundation’s established memorial funds and mentioned the members of the Estonian community who have passed whose families have directed donations to the Foundation or its agent organizations.
Board member Marcus Kolga, who joined the meeting from Tallinn, Estonia, via Skype, announced the Foundation’s successful scholarship applicants from 2009. Ten scholarships in total were distributed to students studying a variety of academic subjects at a university or college level. Three of the scholarship students were at the AGM and were introduced to the audience: Kristina Poldre, Kairi Hess, and Kaarin Lupp. The remaining scholarship winners who were not attendance included Riho Maimets, Katrina Muur, Tyler Vellend, Aleks Kivi, Kuldar Lindvere, Kristian Medri, and Miriam Pettinen.
Lia Hess shared an overview on the previous year’s Estonian activities and projects supported by the Foundation. Organizations, events and special projects that were sponsored or supported by the Foundation in the 2009 year include TES Lasteaed, TES Täienduskoolid, Eesti Lauljate Liit Põhja Ameerikas, Seedrioru Lastesuvekodu, Jõekääru Lastesuvekodu, Eestlaste Kesknõukogu Kanadas (EKN), Eesti Vabadusvõitlejate Liit Kanadas, Eesti Etnograafia Ring Kanadas, Tartu Instituut (estdocs filmifestival, arhiiv, bibliografia klubi, raamatukogu, Kotkajärve Metsaülikool, jt.), Eesti Keskarhiiv Kanadas, Asoc. Estonienne de Bienfaisance pour les Jeunes de Montreal, Montreal Eesti Selts, and Kanada Eestlaste Ajaloo Komisjon. The Foundation has also supported other community based organizations and events including Estonian Canadian churches, EELK Canadian Deanery, Estonian Scouts and Guides in Canada, EGO Masters Golf Tournament, ESK English Classes, Estonian Youth Halloween Party, Baltic Swim Meet, The Estonian Educational Society in Canada, Chair of Estonian Studies Foundation, Seedrioru Suvihari, Eesti Elu Online, Esto Ski Day, Toronto Estonian Men’s Hockey Team, JK Jazz, Estonian Ecumenical Relief Organization, and the Estonian societies in Alberta, Kingston, Vancouver, and Ottawa.
Treasurer Toomas Kütti presented the Foundation's financial results for 2009. These had been audited by external auditor Thomas Koger, C.A. The Foundation's investment portfolio, which is its primary source of funding along with donations, showed a healthy recovery from the bleak state of global markets in 2008. The Foundation's investments are managed conservatively and cautiously by one of Canada's most reputable investment managers. Donations declined by approximately 25% in 2009, which has been typical in years when the economy is in decline. Furthermore, travel to Laulupidu in Estonia by many Estonian-Canadians in the summer of 2009 was a costly undertaking, which limited discretionary dollars. Nevertheless, the Foundation did fund the activities of organizations across Canada with more than $450,000 in support. The year ended with a modest $14,000 surplus. Next year's budget, as presented, was balanced and anticipated continued support of Estonian-Canadian organizations at a level comparable to previous years. The budget also anticipated modest growth in donations and success of the Foundation's second fund-raising Gala event, which takes place on Saturday May 15 at the picturesque Palais Royale banquet hall. Meeting attendees approved the 2009 financial statements and the 2010 budget unanimously.
The Board of Director elections were held and the re-elected Board members for the 2010 year are: Lia Hess (president), Eva Varangu (Vice-President), Peeter Põldre (Secretary), Toomas Kütti (treasurer), Andres Taul (Board Member) and Marcus Kolga (Board Member). Every three years, two members of the Board are put up for re-election. This year the two members were Toomas Kütti and Peeter Põldre, who were unanimously re-elected for the next three years.
The Board gave an overview of the Foundation’s office work at 956 Broadview Ave. Paid workers at the office are Maimu Mölder, Tormi Kimsto, Lembitu Ristsoo and Merli Tamtik. The Board also made sure to thank all its volunteers from the 2009 year, including Paul Saumets, Tarmo Saks, Tauno Mölder, Kairi Hess, Leikki Hess, Andres Kimsto, Miina Yalle, Keila Kopvillem, Kaili Yalle, Heli Telmet, Krista Eichenbaum, Laura Eichenbaum, Christopher Rozanski, Leena Tinits, Thomas Kadai, Nick Hilkewich, Robert Martjak, Kara-Lis Coverdale, Katrin Kütti-Otsa, Ene Migur, Anne Liis Keelmann, Olav Abelle, and Allan Eistrat.
Looking into the future, the Board indicated that the Foundation will be working extremely hard on continuing to grow the donor database while continuing to promote and sustain Estonian community activities throughout the country. More focus will be placed on allowing Estonian communities in other provinces to grow and thrive, especially Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, Edmonton, etc. The EFC revealed its name change in English announcing it will drop the National to shorten the name to the Estonian Foundation of Canada. Alongside the name change the EFC also revealed its new logo, a tree with deep roots, representing the importance of the Estonian community’s heritage ties, and far-reaching branches, representative of the community’s continual growth in Canada.
The meeting was then adjourned and a question and comment segment was held. Ellen Valter, speaking on behalf of estdocs Film Festival, presented the Foundation with an estdocs plaque signed by all of the estdocs 2009 participants to thank the Foundation for its continued support throughout the years. Allan Liik, representing JK Jazz, also presented a thank-you speech and a JK Jazz 2009 plaque signed by the artists who participated in the event. The plaques will be hung in the EFC office. The meeting was adjourned by thanking the attendees for their continued support and trust.
Following the meeting, the audience headed into the hallway between the large hall and the Crystal hall with champagne to view the unveiling of the new donor wall. The donor wall, which is located between the two main doors to the Estonian house’s large hall, was put up by EFC to honor those in the Estonian society who have helped to sustain and grow the community in Canada through monetary donations since 1993. The donor wall, which bears EFC’s new logo, was unveiled by the youngest attendees at the AGM, ranging in age from 4 to 7. The unveiling went very well and the general audience had only positive feedback for the EFC. Take a look at the donor wall the next time you are at the Estonian house in Toronto.
Throughout the AGM, members and attendees were reminded that a great way to increase your personal donation to the EFC can be by attending our May 15th Gala, being held at Palais Royale this year. Keynote speaker will by Deputy Chief of Mission in Washington, Mrs. Kyllike Sillaste-Elling and the evening’s dancing entertainment will feature Toronto band Saturday Night Jive. Tickets are $250 per person and a $125 tax receipt will be issued for the purchase. For table reservations or individual tickets please contact Tormi Kimsto at the EFC office at 956 Broadview Ave., (416)465-5600 or via email at .
The Estonian Foundation of Canada annual general meeting