Katrin Roop and Maris-Ann Vanaselja: EFC Board members dedicated to preserving Estonian culture in Canada. They represent Canadian-Estonians today – the global citizen making her home in Canada, and the child of Estonian immigrants.
Katrin grew up in Estonia, participating in folk dancing, choirs and Laulupidu. Katrin came to Canada 25 years ago after leaving Estonia to attend university in the US. It’s no secret, love is what brought her talents to Toronto. She is honest, original and prudent (she is born in the Year of the Dog!) and her methodical project management skills keep EFC on track and on mission.
Maris-Ann grew up in Toronto and has participated in almost every activity our community offers – Guides, School, Church, Rhythmic gymnastics, Ööbik choir. She has been to Estonia twice so far. She speaks Estonian daily with her family. Maris-Ann is imaginative, committed and persuasive (her sign is Cancer) and puts these qualities and her corporate experience to use for the benefit of the community.
What is the ONE BIG THING people should know about Estonia/Estonians?
KR: Beautiful nature is a true trademark of Estonia. A fairly small country, it has close to 1,500 lakes and over 2,300 islands; forests cover approximately 50% of the country.
MAV: Estonians have a very strong and positive can-do attitude. They find ways to resolve problems and are willing to pitch in to get things done.
What does being Estonian mean to you?
KR: Being Estonian makes me feel special and very proud. Our history is colorful, though also painful and sad. The strength of our people is magical and amazing.
MAV: Pride! My Estonian heritage is my sense of belonging to a determined, strong, positively-minded culture that embraces empathy, laughter, music and kindness.
What's your biggest worry for Estonia?
KR: Too many Estonians seem to confuse patriotism with nationalism. We have to trust that our culture and language will persevere and flourish as it has for centuries.
MAV: That Estonia can retain its independence and its political and economic influence in a volatile global climate.
Why did you get involved with EFC? Why is it important to you?
KR: It was time for me to start volunteering for the community and ensure that there is ongoing funding for Estonian cultural and language activities in Canada.
MAV: To join in the EFC mission to support Canadian-Estonian programs. It's important to preserve and celebrate our heritage and culture in Canada, where cultural diversity is embraced and promoted.
What is the ONE BIG THING you think people should know about EFC?
KR: Every request for funding is thoroughly considered - no decision is made lightly. EFC funding often provides a critical lifeline to organizations and activities. Although there are generous donors in our community, we all need to do our part. No donation is too small.
MAV: EFC's ability to financially support the organizations and events that many people enjoy is proportional to donations.
You are a volunteer and a donor. Why do you donate?
KR: As a volunteer, I have firsthand knowledge of the real need for donation dollars to support our Estonian community in Canada. It gives me great joy to know that my donations have supported many concerts and festivals that bring Estonia closer.
MAV: We have come to a point in our community where volunteering alone is not enough. Real dollars are necessary so that organized programs can continue to operate despite reduced numbers, and new initiatives can be tested and supported.
What are your hobbies?
KR: I started playing golf a few years ago and I LOVE it. Also, gardening and yoga.
MAV: Everything food! Hiking, biking, kayaking, travel, DIY around the house.