The vision of a globally connected and vibrant gathering place for Estonians in North America and around the world is the driving force behind the new International Estonian Centre (IEC) in Toronto. To help make this vision a reality, the IEC’s Steering Committee members and advisors have collectively pledged $1 million toward its capital campaign. The Steering Committee is comprised of dedicated volunteers from each of the four organizations which are cooperatively leading the project; Veiko Parming and Glen Leis (Toronto Estonian House), Ellen Valter and Mihkel Liik (Estonian Credit Union), Eva Varangu and Mihkel Holmberg (Estonian Foundation of Canada), Jaan Meri and Peeter Einola (Tartu College) and Tom Koger (advisor).
The Steering Committee is responsible for strategic direction and oversight of all components of the project (planning, design, building, legal, finance and operations) to ensure the centre’s completion.
“One million dollars from people who have already donated hundreds if not thousands of hours of volunteer time to this project is simply extraordinary,” said IEC Steering Committee chair Ellen Valter. “These financial gifts further demonstrate the commitment of those working on this project to ensure that we create a world class beautiful, functional and sustainable home for our local and global community.”
The IEC will be a vibrant hub for Estonians of all generations and backgrounds to celebrate and share our culture and achievements with each other and the world. Designed by award-winning Canadian-Estonian architect Alar Kongats, it will have space for Estonian cultural activities, a café/bistro, flexible event spaces, of which the main hall can accommodate up to 330 seated guests, a landscaped rooftop space, and animated public square that is shaped after the map of Estonia.
The capital campaign is well underway with Kalevipoja Laud ($100,000+) and Viru Vanemad ($10,000+) levels of donors totalling over $6 million in pledges received. Stay tuned for the launch of the Kungla Rahvas donation levels (under $10,000) in the coming months. The IEC is scheduled to open in 2021.
The Steering Committee in their own words: Why we are giving
Ellen Valter , Chair
By giving to this project to the best of my ability financially too, I am doing my part, as did my parents and grandparents, to help ensure that our community will remain vibrant, evolving, and able to offer to subsequent generations of Estonians the opportunities and the sense of community that I have enjoyed. And, as an added bonus, it’s an honour to work alongside so many talented people on a project of such significance and beauty.
The reason for my gift is twofold. I view the project as a catalyst for our cultural and community rejuvenation for generations to come. On a more personal note, I want to recognize the contributions of my parents, Edgar and Edna, and my brother Allan. They have given so much of themselves to the Estonian community over the years. This gift is my way of honouring their legacy. I know that if Al was still with us, he would have been a huge proponent of the project both as a generous donor and an active participant.