Urve Palo is a tall elegant lady in her early thirties who is also the Minister of Population and Ethnic Affairs in the Estonian government.
She came to visit her charges in Canada, and after a concert at Estonian House and before going to Seedrioru for Suvihari and the Song Festival marking both the 90th anniversary year of Estonian independence as well as the beginning of the 60th anniversary year of the Toronto Estonian supplementary schools she stopped at Finnjoy 2008, a Finnish festival at the North York Municipal Centre also known as the "Mel Lastman Place". The Nordic Festival was also being celebrated there.
Palo was accompanied by her ad hoc local “ministerial staff”, Avo Kittask, President of the Estonian Central Council, Markus Hess, founder of Black Ribbon Day and Aho Rebas from Sweden.
When asked if she intended to repeat President Toomas Hendrik Ilves' invitation delivered to Canadian Estonians in May to return home Urve Palo agreed that it would be a good idea, but she wouldn't want to upset those who have settled here. She would, however, welcome Estonian youth from here to move to Estonia.
When asked if her presence at Finnjoy was to entice Finnish to settle in Estonia she agreed jovially that it also would be a good idea.
Palo delivered a brief address at Finnjoy:
"Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends from Finland and Canada.
It is a great honour for me as minister of the government of Estonia to address you here in Toronto today, far away from our home countries.
Finland and Estonia have many bonds of friendship throughout history.
Our languages are closely related since pre-historic times.
When our countries battled for freedom and independence in 1919, Estonia received substantial help from Finnish volunteers and during the Second World War a regiment of Estonian volunteers helped Finland fight against the Soviet army.
During the long decades when Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union, Finland and Finnish television formed Estonia’s only window to the west.
By watching Finnish television Estonians were informed about what was really happening in the free world. This was of great importance. As a positive side effect, very many Estonians learned to speak Finnish.
These days we have a wide range of co-operation between our free and independent countries.
We have many Finnish companies and investments in Estonia. Finnish tourists are often seen in Tallinn, at the numerous spas in Pärnu and on our islands.
Tens of thousands of Estonians temporarily earn their living in Finland, which benefits both countries.
It is a pleasure to see that the friendly cooperation between the Finns and Estonians functions also here in Canada.
I wish you a very joyful and successful day."
After enjoying the festival of our kin the Finns, Urve Palo and her ministerial retinue were off to yet another engagement.
Urve Palo visits Finnjoy