A Living Archival Project for Our Times – „Vienotībā”

November 30, 2020

On the occasion of the celebration of the 102nd anniversary of Latvia’s Declaration of Independence, a first time ever event was created as a collaboration of the Latvian National Federation in Canada (LNAK), the Toronto Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre and community centres across the country. The main theme was to mark November 18 with a sense of unity from coast (Atlantic) to coast (Pacific) to coast (Arctic).

An open invitation went out for video greetings from community schools, choirs, dance groups, families or simply any individuals who wanted to wish a Happy Birthday to the nation. The final compilation was over two hours. As mentioned, this was not only a first time virtual event, but a first for all participants, considering the challenges of COVID. From filming to participation, it took some creativity to stick to social distancing and protective measures such as the wearing of masks.

Though the use of Zoom has serious limitations in picture quality and sound, it nevertheless allowed involvement from a large sector of the community. Also, in spite of length and quality issues, the feedback was both enthusiastic and emotional. For example, some presentations included old photographs from previous generations which were basically their own family treasures or souvenirs. In other cases, families sat watching the screen in order to spot old friends, and enjoy a bit of nostalgia.

The compilation of video greetings was a success in that it brought the vastly scattered Latvian-Canadian population together with the use of relatively inexpensive and easy to use current technology. It certainly contributed to the support of cultural identity.

In addition to Zoom, streaming took place on Facebook and the programme is still available on Youtube. https://youtu.be/iCfTayx3JuI

Based on this success, LNAK is preparing a musical Christmas greeting.

Needless to say, these productions will end up in KLAM, the Canadian Latvian Archive and Museum.

Andris Ķesteris,
President Latvian National Federation in Canada Baltic Federation in Canada