SOM, AJ SLOVAK BUDEM!
ask someone living in Canada who he or she is,
the answer will more than likely be not
that they are Canadian but that they belong to
some ethnic group, Italian, Chinese, Polish.
Except when they are outside Canada, then they
Much the same happens to minorities in
Slovakia where if you ask a person who he or she
is, notwithstanding that they have lived in
Slovakia for many years, they will say they are
Hungarians or Jews or Czechs. And when they are
outside Slovakia they will identify themselves as
Hungarians or Jews or Czechs living in Slovakia!
Try as hard as we might to be accepted as
Canadians in Canada, we will always be referred
to as Slovaks, and for this reason what happens
in Slovakia is of great importance because what
happens there affects us here and how other
Canadians regard us.
Just the other day, Hillary Clinton, wife of
the U.S. president, was in Bratislava, and the
U.S. telecast indicated Americans were concerned
about the poor economic future of Slovakia,
legislation that threatened freedom of speech,
and the poor treatment of minorities in Slovakia.
I have not heard of the United States offering
support for its Slovak minorities for schools and
language training. In fact they are closing down
Slovak churches in the United States. Slovakia
does however support its minorities and for this
Slovakia gets no thanks at all.
Quebec has laws to protect the French
language. Is it wrong for Slovakia to enact
legislation protecting the Slovak language in
Yet in a two-minute news clip, the American
media denigrated the good name and reputation of
Slovakia which had been built up during the last
three years by the hard work of the Slovak people
which showed itself in excellent economic
performance. But there are those who don't want
to see Slovakia succeed and sow doubts in the
minds of those having the power and influence to
help Slovakia into NATO, the EU etc. This
telecast was pure mischief, and we should be
prepared to speak out to defend Slovakia.
By the same token, our representatives in
public life in Slovakia have to understand that
everything they do is examined carefully by
outsiders. Our legislators have the
responsibility to enact laws that are in accord
with accepted human rights because we must not
only be seen to be a democratic people, we must
also seem to be a democratic people.
Each of us inherited from our parents elements
of Slovakia's past, and nothing will ever wash
away our Slovakness. For this reason, we should
learn as much as we can about our Slovak heritage
and wear it with pride. We must come together as
a community because interaction between ourselves
serves to reinforce our Slovak identity. The
pride with which we bear that identity will
convince others that to be Slovak is worth it.
I am a Canadian, and proud to be one. But I am
also of Slovak heritage and I bring with me to
the Canadian table all the experiences and values
that come with being Slovak. We have so much to
tell our fellow Canadians about the worth of
preserving one's language and culture, of what it
means to live under various forms of government
and their effect on one's culture and language,
of what freedom and independence are all about.
They say that in the future as economies
become intertwined, borders between nations will
become meaningless. As computers and the Internet
take over communications in which English will be
the communicating language, this will be the
ultimate test of the strength of our Slovak
language and culture.
Let us rise and proclaim that even then
"Slovak som, aj Slovak budem."