A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
Episodes Search Site Map The Series Partners White Pine White Pine Home


General History

LEGACY

 

According to the 1996 census, there are 203,345 Greek Canadians. Greek Canadian community leaders, however, estimated that in 1993, there were 250,000 people of Greek descent living throughout Canada.6 The Greeks who came to Canada were amongst the poorest of Canada's immigrants. They came fleeing war, famine and economic hardships. They arrived destitute and desperate. They sought out the comfort of the familiar by settling together in communities, where they could conduct business, hold festivals and church services in their own language. They were fiercely determined to pass on the love of Greece to their children, while at the same time ensuring that they became Canadians, learned English and received an education. Many of the poorest of the poor became Canada's success stories.

Today, the children and grandchildren of the destitute are adults. Many are doctors, lawyers and artisans of modern Canada. There are several Greek newspapers, examples being Hellenic Tribune, Greek Canadian Weekly, Greek Canadian Press. There are parades and festivals commemorating the Greek heritage, particularly surrounding March 25, Greek Independence Day. Many ensure that their children attend Greek language class, to learn the language and culture of their parents and grandparents.

John Tsopelas was the first nominated Greek immigrant to run for a Federal seat. Arriving in 1956, with no English, when there were only 800 Greeks in Canada, he started working in a factory. By 1978, Tsopelas was standing for office. He lost the election and feels that his ethnicity worked against him. Today, there are several Greek Members of Parliament, amongst them are John Cannis and Jim Kariannis. Greeks now dominate the restaurant industry. The Canadian born generation have no accent and are accepted into Canadian society.

Father Nicholas Salamis, has the rare privilege of being among the first of the Greeks to have emigrated to Canada. Through his position as a priest in the Greek Orthodox Church, he was able to contribute to his beloved community in Montréal, while at the same time, watch as each new generation of Greek Canadians matured and made their contribution to Canada.