organizations such as the Kanadska Slovenska
Liga, Jednota, and Podporny Spolok were started
in the early days of immigration, when people
came here with the idea of making money and
sending some back home to support the family left
behind in Slovakia.
But often those immigrants died in the mines
leaving a family without enough money even to pay
for the funeral. The fraternals arose from this
social need in the 30s by providing affordable
insurance which provided often only $1,000. But
what need will they serve in the year 2000 when
those insurance proceeds will not be sufficient?
Insurance premiums also provided these
fraternals with money to fund Slovak cultural
programs, so that the Liga, for example, got
heavily involved in sponsoring folk dance groups
and Slovak Day celebrations while Jednota chose
to fund North American-type activities such as
bowling and golf. These were intended to attract
members to the fraternals to make sure they
survived even as other activity in the Slovak
community seemed to decrease.
Women formed groups such as the Rosary Circle
at church; they had their own Zenska Jednota, and
as dedicated as they were to their religion they
knew the value of encouraging young members to
join them to keep the community and the fraternal
Today we have a credit union to which a good
part of the 120,000 Slovaks in Canada should
belong as members because for some it may be
their only visible sign of support for the
Times have changed; the need for minimal
insurance has passed. If one needs insurance one
goes to a commercial company for larger amounts
from $100,000 to $500,000 on one's life. But
Liga, Jednota, Sokol, Zenska Jednota, Podporny
Spolok still need your support and they each have
interesting programs and deserve support even if
it means taking out a small insurance policy to
join. One doesn't join these organizations just
for the insurance; one joins to show support for
the Slovak community in Canada.
Because there are so many other activities and
because Slovaks live so far apart, it is getting
harder to get Slovaks to attend meetings or
functions. As a result some of the organizations
go a long time without holding either meetings or
functions. Yet we have halls such as the one in
Toronto which lies idle, rarely used by the
community. The ones in Welland, St. Catharines
and Windsor are used as profit-making activities
for local branches.
But the membership is growing older, and the
people who dedicated themselves to the upkeep of
these properties can't afford the time they once
did. Who will be the ones to take over these
fraternals and properties? What will become of
them in 2000?
Unless our youth is convinced of the need for
these organizations and properties as symbols of
the Slovak community in Canada, they will be
sold. It is vital that the youth be encouraged to
take part in the executive of local branches, to
take part in the administration of things around
branches, even the hall. Someone has to take over
once the older generation goes.
It is essential that every Slovak chooses an
organization to support.
It doesn't matter whether it's the insurance,
the picnics, sponsoring folk dance groups or the
dances, to have a vibrant community a community
needs having organizations such as these to serve
as the community's backbone.