A man talks about the fracture within the Greek community between civic and ecclesiastical in Edmonton.
Α.Τ.: In 1982 there is established another community here in Edmonton which we call “Civic community”. With the name ‘Greek-Canadian Community of Edmonton and suburbs’ and which we established ourselves here to be a parallel organization to the ecclesiastical community, in order to have the possibility of presenting ourselves to the Canadian authorities not as an ecclesiastical organization, but as a cultural one. Unfortunately… the political circumstances of that period in Greece largely influenced the Greeks abroad and in the ‘80s… by ’83 we were divided.
RES.: Could you describe to me a bit what exactly do you mean by political circumstances?
Α.Τ.: The radical changes of governments in Greece. From… That is, Greece had a tradition of center-right governments and suddenly there was formed a center-left government. This type of slogans though -I remember back then the slogans which were prominent in Greece as ‘CIAkovos’.
RES.: Ah! I understand!
Α.Τ.: As CIAkovos. And all these crossed the ocean and came here. Edmonton and another three communities in Canada were split, because those who were influenced by the Greek situation didn’t want to cooperate with the ecclesiastical mechanism anymore.
Α.Τ.: And there passed a decade that the ecclesiastical community and the civic community didn’t have good relations and I’m saying this diplomatically. Of the four such communities in Canada, today only one survives, in Edmonton. The other ones closed. The civic communities.
RES.: Which cities were they in?
Α.Τ.: One in London Ontario, one in Waterloo? The cases of Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal are unique, because the communities there are by act of the legislature(?) established, therefore it’s a very different case.
RES.: It already had two though. But it had two ecclesiastical communities.
Α.Τ.: Yes. Yes. There isn’t a war there one with another. Here, there was essentially war. They’d go to the government and they’d say […]. “These are […], how could you give them […]?”. After fifteen years, things settled down and fortunately now they are quiet. But it doesn’t cease to create an issue at the core of the unification of Hellenism. It’s not understandable nowadays for this community to have a Greek school and for the other community to have a Greek school at the same time. This here, this moment has some hundred children? And the other community has twenty children at school. It doesn’t make sense to have two Greek schools in a small village…
RES.: It’s rare…
Α.Τ.: … but people say “Few houses make for a bad village”. Anyway, we should be grateful that balance has been established now. There’s no war. In big national celebrations there’s cooperation even. At some point, I believe, everybody will understand that unification is a one-way street.
RES.: But it’s important this piece of evidence, that there indeed existed, that the political situation in Greece seeded…
RES.: … problems. It could have seeded solutions, instead of problems.
Α.Τ.: It seeded problems.
RES.: Because, excuse me…
RES.: It’s the period during which all big steps concerning national reconciliation in Greece were taken and it’s somewhat odd that…
RES.: ... the national reconciliation in Greece resulted in fracture in Edmonton.
Α.Τ.: That is, the situation was more or less like it had been in the decade of the 20s in America, with the royalists and the venizelists and they were close to killing each other, it was close to becoming like this here too. The people who came to the church didn’t speak with those people who went to the community. That’s why I’m saying the circumstances have settled down now, but they were certainly political creations. The proof lies in the fact that most of those who were the leaders, in quotation marks, of the civic community at the time and for the next decade, all of them at a certain point gathered their belongings, went to Greece and were established nicely and lavishly.