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


COME TOGETHER

As we approach the year 2000, it is our responsibility to do those things necessary to show that we are united in our Slovak heritage, and that there is reason to continue the identification of the community as Slovak.

Never has our community appeared more divided than now.

This country is so huge, and we are so few that we are lost among the peoples of Canada, especially among those who have come into Canada since 1969 by the hundreds of thousands. As each community grows larger, they demand and seek representation in the decision-making bodies of this country, all the time pushing us further and further down the list of priorities.

It was no accident that the former president of the National Action Committee for Women recently pleaded with feminist groups that her successor be a woman of color. Is not white a color too? Are no Slovak heritage women qualified to lead NAC? What did Slovak women do to deserve such shunning? Didn't our mothers and our sisters experience the same consequences of discrimination when they came here and sought positions, as these women of color now claim?

Why is their plight seen as less than those who came into the country over the last few years?

Governments heed groups such as NAC because they pretend to represent large groups of women, even if they don't. Our problem is that because the growth of our community and the lack of immigration from Slovakia have left our community small, no one in officialdom cares what the Slovak Canadian community thinks.

We are simply white Europeans who are blamed for all the hurts, real and imagined, that other groups of people, notably the so-called visible minorities, in Canada claim they have suffered. It's not fair. We didn't do anything to discriminate against anyone. So why do we have to share the blame?

We have however become the invisible minority.

Because we are divided by time and distance, the occasions on which we come together are fewer and fewer. Yet we must make the effort to demonstrate that the Slovak community is an integral part of multicultural Canada.

But we are also divided by such things as religion, politics, membership in competing fraternal organizations, place of origin within Slovakia, ability to speak and/or read the Slovak language, and a host of other differences which seem to mean something to some people.

All of these things together make it difficult to show the Canadian community that there is in Canada a strong, united Slovak community here. We have to overcome our differences and reach out to each other because of the one common element that ties us together -- that we are of Slovak heritage.

And we must do it in such a way as not to hurt anyone in the community. We must realize that our survival as a community is at stake. We must be on guard against activities which would divide us and perpetuate the differences between us to the extent that we do not participate or attend each other's events held in the community.

It doesn't matter that the function is sponsored by Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics or Lutherans, Ligars or Jednotars, those from eastern Slovakia or from Central or Western Slovakia, it is more important that the event be successful and that it reflect well upon our Slovak Canadian society.

Let Slovaks be united in their respect for one another and show other Canadians that we are a kinder gentler people who deserve a place in the Canadian sun.

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.