New Exhibit in Toronto Showcases Dramatic Life Stories of Baltic Canadian Seniors

March 10, 2017

Through photos, documents and life stories, Sharing our Stories: The Baltic Diaspora at Home in Canada profiles the age-old story of people forced to leave their homeland due to war and political oppression and start a new life elsewhere. This exhibit is based on a series of interviews with seniors from Ontario’s Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Baltic German communities. Their personal ‘snapshot stories’ shed light on what it means to be Baltic, and on the universal experiences of migration and settlement.

“Seniors are keepers of cultural history and the generation of post-war immigrants in Canada is rapidly aging. We are at a critical moment for capturing and sharing the rich cultural knowledge that this generation has to offer,” says Petra Grantham, president of the Canadian Baltic Immigrant Aid Society.

The exhibit was launched on Saturday March 4, 2017 at 2pm at VEMU/Estonian Studies Centre. Almost 200 people from all four Baltic groups attended the opening reception, among them were the directors of Baltic central organizations, Multicultural History Society of Ontario representatives Kathy Leekam and Elizabeth Price. Canadian MP Rob Oliphant also attended and brought along well wishes from the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The exhibit curators Piret Noorhani, Petra Grantham, Danguelo Juozapavičius and Andris Ķesteris via Skype from Ottawa all addressed the visitors. The short film of interviews collected during the project created by Kaisa Pitsi was also screened.

The exhibit can be viewed at VEMU from March 4 – March 29. From there the exhibit will travel across North America and then to the Baltic countries. The exhibit celebrates Canada’s 150th birthday and Estonia’s, Latvia’s, and Lithuania’s 100th birthdays.

The project partners are the Canadian Baltic Immigrant Aid Society, VEMU/Estonian Studies Centre, Lithuanian Museum Archives of Canada and the Canadian Latvian Archive and Museum (Latvian National Federation in Canada), who are working together as a collaborative known as Baltic Canadian Imprints. The ‘Snapshot Stories: Learning and Legacy Through Visual and Oral History’ project is funded by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program.

Piret Noorhani