Every four years, Canadians of Estonian heritage elect a national organization – the Estonian Central Council in Canada. The Council, established in the early 1950’s, was mandated by the community to raise awareness of Estonia’s Soviet occupied plight and to lobby Canada and other democratic countries to help Estonians re-establish self-determination.
Since 1991 the focus of the Council has been on issues such as the vitality of our community in the diaspora, the relationship between Estonian expatriates and the land of our heritage, the Canada-Estonia relationship, Estonia’s national security etc.
Since the Canadian government has always expected the Canadian-Estonian community present its concerns and suggestions through one recognized national body, the Central Council has been acknowledged for nearly 60 years as being the “parliament”, and therefore the community’s legitimate voice. The Council is also recognized by the Estonian government as the authentic representative of Canadians of Estonian heritage.
In addition, while conceding that limited finances deny Estonia fully staffed embassies and consulates throughout the world, the Estonian government is thankful that the Estonian diaspora can often act as advocates of causes crucial to Estonia’s future. The Canadian government, promoters of its home-grown brand of multiculturalism, expects many of its different groupings of citizens to represent views and positions that originate elsewhere – as long as they don’t espouse violence, hatred or actions in serious conflict with Canada’s interests.
Since the Council has no executive or administrative powers, its decisions are taken as suggestions and the building of consensus is often a complicated process. Though the community may appear as a homogenous entity to the outside observer, its diversity of opinion makes for lively and emotional debate.
The executive of the Council’s election committee has indicated that nomination of candidates will proceed this coming June. Candidates are of Estonian heritage. The size of the elected Council varies between 25 and 40 depending on the number of candidates nominated.
Further details of deadlines and procedures will be released in the next issues of Estonian Life and at www.eesti.ca
You can play an influential part in the Estonian Central Council elections in Canada