Toronto Estonians Got to See and Hear About Siberian Estonians

October 15, 2011

On the initiative of Tartu College’s Estonian Studies Centre (Chief Archivist Piret Noorhani), Toronto’s Estonians got to learn about Siberian Estonians during a week in September.

The exhibition ’Siberian Estonians’ (Siberi eestlased) is a joint exhibition by the Estonian Literary Museum and the Estonian Academy of Arts (compiled by Anu Korb and Kadri Viires), and has been displayed in several places in Estonia and in Krasnoyarsk Krai in Russia.

This time, the exhibition was opened in Toronto on the eve of Tartu College’s 41st term start. The main lecture – the Dr Vello Soots memorial lecture ’Emigration of Estonians through the Ages’, was held by Professor Raimo Raag of Uppsala University. Anu Korb spoke about Estonian villages in Siberia. Afterwards, guests were invited to taste Siberian specialties.

The Siberian Estonian theme continued a couple of days later with a film evening in the Crystal Room at the Estonian House. The evening featured Andres Korjus’s documentary In Strange Lands ’Võera maade sees’ (Exitfilm, 2005), with shots from Siberian expeditions made by the the Estonian Folklore Archives. Anu Korb presented the film and answered questions afterwards

Anu Korb also met with the people of Ehatare and Eesti Kodu, and spoke about the lives and stories of Siberia’s Estonians.

The Siberia week was finished with the theatre group Ilutuli’s performance, which was based on Anu Korb’s The Lives and Stories of Siberian Estonians (’Siberi eestlaste elud ja lood’, the Estonian Literary Museum, 2010, performance script by Piret Noorhani). Piret had selected four stories, some of which were complemented using other texts. The actors Ellen Valter, Eda Oja, Merli Tamtik and Eerik Purje were really able to bring the stories to life. The performance was accompanied by selected songs from the CD anthology Songs of Siberian Estonians (’Siberi eestlaste laulud’).

The events introducing the lives and culture of Siberian Estonians provided the Toronto Estonians with new knowledge as well as experiences. We hope to see more of this kind of events bringing Estonians from both East and West together. The exhibition ’Siberian Estonians’ will move on to other Estonian centres in Canada and the United States.

The event was supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, the Compatriots Programme, the Estonian Foundation of Canada and Tartu College.

Anu Korb
Translated by Laura Neill