LIVING SLOVAK
THE CHURCHES, CENTRES OF ACTIVITY
THE ORGANIZATIONS
WILL YOU SPEAK SLOVAK?
THE UNKNOWN ARTS
SOCIAL NEEDS
COMMUNICATIONS
IS IT TIME TO GO BACK?
IT'S ONLY POLITICS
YOU'VE GOT TO BE THERE
WHO WILL SPEAK FOR US?
REMEMBERING THE PAST
THE WIRED COMMUNITY
PROJECTS TO CONSIDER
SPORTS TIMES
A PLACE TO SHOW OUR STUFF
THE STRUGGLING ARTS
COME TOGETHER
WHAT YOU MUST DO
SLOVAK SOM, AJ SLOVAK BUDEM!

Slovaks in Canada
in the Year 2000

by John V. Stephens, Q.C.,
Honorary Consul, Slovak Republic


WHO WILL SPEAK FOR US?

When a person stands up and declares this is the position of the community, the first thing his or her listeners will want to know, who gave that person the right to speak for the community?

So when a Roman Catholic, for example, stands and declares this to be the view of the community, other religious communities are free to say "Thank you, but we speak for ourselves." The Liga speaks only for its members just as Jednota speaks only for its members.

Our community is small, but Lord we love to have organizations for every little thing, and it shows itself in Slovakia were we have more than 70 political parties. We need to come together and compromise to make our voice stronger in number.

Many years ago, when Slovakia was still struggling for its freedom and autonomy, the late Steve Roman believed that Slovaks should have a united voice outside Slovakia to speak for a country which could not at that time defend itself. So was born the Slovak World Congress, an organization for all Slovaks and Slovak organizations.

Slovak organizations joined the Congress because they knew that the Slovak community needed a table around which all organizations could sit to discuss problems facing the community generally.

In Canada, many organizations became members of the Slovak World Congress, and formed the Canadian intercontinental committee. This committee for a number of reasons was incorporated under the laws of Canada, and every Congress organizational member automatically became a member of the Slovak Canadian National Council. Just another name for the SWC Intercontinental Committee in Canada.

The Council was to be the unified voice of Slovak Canadians. The Canadian vice-president of the SWC was supposed to be the President of the Council. The Council was meant to encourage our organizations to create activity in the community and where there was none or where the community was too small, to see what could be done to bring programs to those areas.

Today there are those who question whether we should have a Slovak Canadian National Council. To them I say, that the Slovak community in Canada needs a place where all Slovak organizations can meet to discuss matters relating to the whole community. If not the Council, then who and where?

Governments are only concerned with numbers, and if the organization purporting to speak for the Slovak community consists of only a handful of people, you know government will not pay attention.

If you don't like the Slovak Canadian National Council, you have the responsibility to create an alternate unified voice that is acceptable to the community, to speak for the community when it has to be done. Until that happens, the Council should be regarded as the unified voice of all Slovak Canadians.

Originally, we thought the president of the Council should change every couple of years so that every member organization would have a chance to have one of its own to head the Council. This is still a good idea, and it would mean much that one year the President would come from Liga, another year from Jednota and so on. The Council has to be seen as the organization of the whole community, not just a part.

Financing is a problem, and the community must be made to realize that in these days when there are so many ethnic groups trying to convince governments of the justness of their cause, we need to be there too. We have to be prepared to pay for it to make it happen.

Copyright of "Slovaks in Canada in the Year 2000" 1996 - John V. Stephens, Q.C.
All other contents & photographs 1997, Ondro Mihal.
All comments should be forwarded to
Ondro Mihal at omihal@slovak.com.
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Last update on
May 29, 1997.