On 4 July 2019 in Toronto, Canada, the Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, Chrystia Freeland, opened the XV Latvian Song and Dance Festival in Canada, which brought together more than 2000 choir singers and dancers from across the world and from Latvia.
“From times immemorial, song has been an inseparable part of every Latvian’s life, in joy and sorrow. We have built our state with song, and it was through the Singing Revolution that we got our statehood back. Song and dance festivals are part of our national and cultural identity; they are a manifestation of the ancient and rich Latvian cultural heritage, its beauty. I have a special pleasure of having the Canadian Foreign Minister with us today. This is yet another proof of the close and friendly ties between our countries. I would also like to thank Canada for its major contribution to the strengthening of security of Latvia and our region, Canadian troops being deployed, together with other NATO Allies, on a significant mission in Latvia. Let me also offer gratitude to every participant and member of the creative team of the XV Latvian Song and Dance Festival, the Organizing Committee in particular,” said the Latvian Foreign Minister at the opening ceremony.
During the Song and Dance Festival, the Foreign Minister met with members of the Latvian organisations from Canada and other countries and with Latvian Honorary Consuls in Canada, including Andris Ķesteris, the President of the Latvian National Federation in Canada; Emīls Matīss, the Chairman of the Latvian National Youth Association in Canada; representatives from the Latvian Relief Society of Canada (Daugavas Vanagi); Kristīne Saulīte, the President of the World Federation of Free Latvians; Roberts Klaišis, the Honorary Consul of Latvia in Quebec; and Karlis Christian Vasarais, the Honorary Consul of Latvia in South Ontario.
Due to sustained efforts of the Latvian community in Canada and support from the Canadian Government, the Latvian community could exist and retain its national identity during the years of occupation through creating Latvian centres and establishing schools. Members of the Latvian community in Canada have provided significant support for Latvia on its path to restoring independence.
Over the past decade, Latvian nationals have also arrived in Canada in search of employment; they are actively engaged in diaspora activities and are creating new organisation. In total, Canada is home to 20,000–25,000 Latvian nationals and Canadians of Latvian descent who are still aware of their affinity with their country of origin.
The main Latvian diaspora centres in Canada are located in Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton (Ontario), Montreal (Quebec), Edmonton and Calgary (Alberta), Vancouver and Kelowna (British Columbia), and Halifax (Nova Scotia).
Tel.: (+371) 67016 272
Fax: (+371) 67828 121
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