Lia Hess and Peeter Põldre: EFC Board members dedicated to preserving Estonian culture in Canada. Both Lia and Peeter have been active participants and dedicated volunteers in the Estonian-Canadian community for their entire lives. They support our community every day, helping to ensure an Estonian future in Canada.
Lia grew up attending Estonian school, active in the Baptist church and a member of Korp! Amicitia. She has been to Estonia over 20 times and participated often in Laulupidu. Born in the Year of the Sheep, she is generous with time, and possesses a quiet strength that can move mountains. Lia was EFC President from 2002-2015, transforming it into a pillar of the community. She was also instrumental in restarting Seedrioru Laulupeod, Hamilton Mixed Choir and Hamilton Estonian School. Her loyalty to the community and intuitive understanding of how to get things done makes her indispensable at the EFC Board table.
Peeter grew up in the Toronto Estonian community, and speaks virtually native Estonian – thanks to a start at TES Schools and frequent visits to Estonia. He has been active with Korp! Vironia, St. Peter’s Church and the Lutheran Consistory and has passed his commitment to community on to his daughters. A volunteer photographer for Eesti Elu/Estonian Life, Peeter attends almost every event in the Toronto-Estonian calendar, helping preserve our heritage in pictures. A true Capricorn, he is practical, productive and dependable, often invaluable as the "Voice of Reason" in EFC discussions.
What is the ONE BIG THING people should know about Estonia/Estonians?
LH: Estonians are culturally Nordic, and technically and musically we are among the best in the world.
PP: Though small in number, Estonians are mighty in intellect and determination.
What does being Estonian mean to you?
LH: Being Estonian means a sense of permanent inclusion in a culture I love, being a citizen of a small, unique, free country, speaking a language only few understand.
PP: Estonian is the heritage bestowed on me by my parents and now re-enforced by all my living relatives, all but one of whom are living in Estonia. It’s who I am.
What's your biggest worry for Estonia?
LH: My biggest worry is that today’s Estonia will not value, preserve and pass on its traditions, songs, dances, foods and language to future generations.
PP: The looming reality of Estonia's aggressive Russian neighbour is ever-present.
Why did you get involved with EFC? Why is it important to you?
LH: I do whatever I can to keep Estonian activities going, especially those which my son Tarvo would have been part of and enjoyed. The time I spend volunteering is time I could have been with him.
PP: I am involved because I want to contribute broadly to the Estonian community.
What is the ONE BIG THING you think people should know about EFC/ESK?
LH: Without EFC/ESK's financial subsidies of most Estonian activities in Canada, there is a good possibility that our community participation would have already shrunk to an alarmingly small group... and maybe even disappeared. People must continue to financially support EFC so we can support Estonian heritage activities.
PP: EFC is a major supporter of a wide variety of Estonian activities in Canada, with a primary focus on the younger generations – they are our future.
You are a volunteer and a donor. Why do you donate?
LH: Every little bit helps – and I feel it is important to lead by example. Its not enough to participate in Estonian events, all participants should try to become donors, too.
PP: I donate for my daughters, for the next generation of Estonian-Canadians.
What are your hobbies?
LH: My family (especially grandchildren), singing and gardening.
PP: Golf for 3 seasons; community event photography all year