VEMU has tried to walk hand in hand with Estonia with our programme of events. One way we do this is by keeping an eye on the themes the Ministry of Culture announces in Estonia each year. In 2013 we celebrated the Year of Cultural Heritage with a number of projects. For the Year of Music in 2015 we announced a collection campaign, which we concluded in the summer of 2016 at the symposium dedicated to Roman Toi’s 100th birthday. 2016 was the Year of Sea Culture. Marko Matvere and Peep Raun visited us with their songs and stories of their experiences at sea.
In Estonia, 2017 has been announced as the Year of Children and Youth Culture. To celebrate this, VEMU invited well-known Estonian author, translator, and librettist Leelo Tungal to Canada. Leelo Tungal arrived in Toronto on April 27th and had a busy week attending many events.
The day after Leelo Tungal arrived, Kaja Telmet and Helge Kurm took our guest to visit Canada’s largest natural wonder, Niagara Falls. On Saturday, Leelo Tungal made a trip to the Estonian House to participate in the frenzy at the AKEN Bazaar and make sure that Estonians can truly do their banking in their mother tongue at the Toronto Estonian Credit Union.
On April 30th VEMU hosted its 6th Fundraiser where Leelo Tungal was an honoured guest and keynote speaker. The author shared her childhood memories and pondered over the perseverance of the Estonian language and culture. In addition to Leelo Tungal, Tartu College President Jaan Meri and Chief Archivist of VEMU Piret Noorhani greeted the guests. Toronto-based catering company The Edible Story with chefs Brian Cheng and Alanna Fleischer served a delicious dinner. Dinner was followed by a special performance by the new jazz ensemble “The Facebook Four.” Some of the members were already known to Toronto Estonians: Toomas Heinar (bass), Eve Heinar (piano), and Vincent Teetsov (drums). It was the saxophonist Selchuk Shun’s first time performing for Estonians.
In Toronto, Leelo Tungal also met with the Bibliography Club and the Tartu College Life Stories Group, performed at the T.E.S. Supplementary School as well as the Estonian retirement home, Ehatare. On May 3rd, Leelo Tungal gave a lecture at Tartu College on the topic of “Our Fairytale Mother Language. 25 Years Since the Sten Roos Fairytale Competition.” Ann and Ants Roos organize the Sten Roos Fairytale Competition in memory of their son Sten Roos (1970-1991) who wrote fairytales as a child. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the competition of which Leelo Tungal has been one of the main initiators and organizers.