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Election update!

The latest news…
Short version:
One month pre-election in Latvia: a political discussion program on Latvian TV this Saturday, September 11, streamed live at  www.vissnotiek.lv. It will start at 10am Alberta time and involve 7 North American cities via Skype, including Edmonton. Anyone with internet access can watch it at home.
If you know any seniors who don’t have internet access and who would like to watch this, please let them know and maybe help them arrange something…?

Long version:
Hansamedia TV in Latvia is organizing a political forum for this Saturday, September 11th, allowing 7 North American communities to participate in discussions with election candidates from 5 political parties in Latvia. This will be done using Skype and will be streamed live on the internet. A similar forum with Europeans, ie: Latvians not living in Latvia, took place on September 4th.

LNAK (Latvian Nat’l Assoc in Canada) chose Toronto and Edmonton as the two Canadian participants. I think they wanted to show and recognize that not all Latvians in Canada live in the east. The other participanting cities are San Francisco, Detroit, Boston, Minneapolis and New York.

There are 3 pre-determined topics which all political candidates will answer and discuss:
1. How many persons of Latvian heritage and how many Latvian citizens live outside Latvia? How important are these Latvians to Latvia? In the interest of future strategic planning, can we agree on a realistic number for this population?
2. What, if anything, is being done now to allow Latvians abroad to return to Latvia? What are future plans/strategies to encourage this return? Does Latvia want these Latvians to return? Maybe it’s more convenient for Latvia to have this diaspora?
3. What is Latvia doing and how is it taking care of the Latvians and Latvian citizens who have chosen to stay abroad, at least for the next few years? How do we help them maintain contact and exercise their rights as citizens? Comments on dual citizenship? Changes in the voting law to allow voting via internet?

The program starts at 7pm Latvian time or 10am Alberta time. It will be 90 minutes long. Because of time constraints, each of the 7 above-mentioned cities will only be allowed to ask one question.

I’ve spoken to 8 people and so far noone wants to be involved. It looks like I’ll be asking the question from Edmonton. However, if one of you would absolutely love to do this in my place, please let me know by Wednesday at the latest and it’s all yours! We are also collecting questions to ask the politicians. One question will be chosen but we’ll need backups in case of duplication so please send me ideas.

Finally – anyone who wants to vote in the October Latvian election has until September 10 to register for an absentee ballot by submitting their application and passport to the Latvian embassy in Ottawa.

Spring Newsletter

After another winter hiatus, our newsletter is back with updates on events in our Latvian community.
Our AGM was held on March 7th. The members of your executive for 2010-11 are Aija Galeviuss, Anita Clark, Edgars Rudzitis, Ena Rudovics, Helen Richards, Inta London, Jim McDonald, Juris Kononovs, Liesma Mithrush,
Linda Payne, Martin Osis and Ruta Vitins. We thank Janis Braze for his contributions to the executive over the years, most recently as auditor.
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The documentary film The Soviet Story (www.thesovietstory.com) will be shown to the general public on Thursday, May 13th, at 7pm at the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex at 9615—153 Ave. This event is co-sponsored by the Edmonton branches of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, the League of Ukrainian Canadians
& the League of Ukrainian Canadian Women, Imanta, and Tribute to Liberty in Toronto.
Ticket price is $10/adult; children and students under 18 are free. This film is incredibly well-documented and well-written. The director, Edvīns Šņore, is coming from Latvia for screenings of his film in New York and
Ottawa. He will also be in Edmonton for our event. There will be a reception and discussion following the film.
Please share this information with anyone who might be interested.
IMANTA is hosting a family picnic on Sunday, May 16th, from 2-5pm at picnic site #3 in William Hawrelak Park. It’s the covered picnic shelter closest to the playground. We will supply burgers, wieners, beverages, fruit and veggies. Please bring children, lawn chairs, balls and kites. It would be especially great to see young families and new arrivals come out to meet each other.
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Gardening season is here! For the past two years, Imanta has donated $1000.00 to the University Farm Organic Growers (UFOG), a non-profit, collectively run community garden located on the UofA farm near Foote Field on the south side of the city. Volunteers who work in the garden benefit by receiving produce and vegetables as they are harvested. A little bit of work in the sun will give you fresh vegetables throughout the summer. If you don’t have a garden or would like to garden more, this is a good group to get involved with.
For electronic access to UFOG, one needs a Google gmail account. Simply log in to the following account http://groups.google.com/group/ufog-edm The only criteria for joining is “how did you learn of the UofA Co-op”. Indicate
you are with IMANTA. All information will be available once you join.
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More Latvians are arriving in both Edmonton and Calgary almost monthly, which is always good news! One young man has just finished a year of studies and basketball at Kings’ College in Edmonton. He’s staying here for the summer and needs to earn money for next year’s tuition. If anyone can offer any kind of part- time or full-time work, please contact him directly at janis.assers@inbox.lv
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Our condolences to the family and friends of Alija Celinskis, who passed away on April 7, 2010.
Congratulations to Kaspars Zauls, who received IMANTA’s scholarship at NAIT in February. He is finishing his studies in the Business Administration- Finance program. The next deadline for application is August 31, 2010 and application information is available at www.nait.ca/scholarships. Our scholarship is listed under “T” as The Edmonton Latvian Society IMANTA. On the last page of this newsletter is information about IMANTA’s new self-administered scholarship program. This program is the result of one year’s work and is tangible evidence of the kind of work we want to do. We are looking for benefits to members of our community and we want to involve more people. We want to encourage and support those who aim to improve themselves and, by extension, our community. We especially want to support our youth in their studies and encourage them to learn more about their heritage and be proud of it.
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Looking ahead:
  • Our Līgo celebration is planned for Saturday, June 26th, at Lake Isle. Details to follow in the next newsletter.
  • Martin Osis is organizing a vēžu balle (crayfish party) weekend at Carson-Pegasus Provincial Park on Carson Lake (near Whitecourt) for July 31-August 2. A group campsite has been reserved for IMANTA members and friends. Who knew we had crayfish in Alberta? Martin has the knowledge and talent to make any outdoor experience memorable. Please mark this on your calendar and plan to come out, even if for one day. More information in next newsletter.
  • Plans are underway to organize a joint Edmonton-Calgary Latvian choir. Practices would be workshop-style and time commitment would be minimal. This will be open to everyone – you do not have to speak Latvian to sing Latvian! More information to follow.
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If you wish to receive this electronically, or if you have any questions/comments about items in this newsletter, please contact rudovics@telus.net or at 780-468-2728.
Imanta is pleased to announce the introduction of our self‐administered scholarship program, funded by our ongoing casino program and governed by the regulations of the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission.
Available Funding
  • The IMANTA ‘Lāčplēsis’ Scholarship: Full Time Post‐Secondary Scholarship $2,500
  • The IMANTA ‘Staburags’ Scholarship: Part‐Time Post‐Secondary Scholarship $1,000
  • The IMANTA ‘Draugi’ Scholarship: Part‐Time Continuing Education Scholarship $500
Scholarship Eligibility
♦ Alberta residents who are Canadian citizens, non‐visitors, foreign students on visa
♦ Full or part‐time students as defined by the accredited post‐secondary educational institution
♦ Awarded on the basis of academic achievement, community involvement, and/or financial need
Application Process
♦ Applicants to submit a 1,000 word essay describing how their Latvian heritage has influenced them as residents of Alberta (previous winners to submit a 750 word essay);
♦ Deadline for applications to be received by the adjudication committee by no later than June 30th of each year
♦ Payment will be made directly to the individual upon submission of proof of attendance (i.e. tuition receipt) at the recognized educational institution.
Submit applications to:
The Edmonton Latvian Society “Imanta”
c/o 9308 – 82 Street
Edmonton, Alberta  T6C 2X5
Attn: Adjudication Committee
ELIGIBLE INSTITUTIONS
All accredited post‐secondary educational institutions in Canada governed by the University Act or the Colleges Act or the Technical Institutes Act.
NUMBER/VALUE OF AWARDS
To be funded by June 30th, 2010:
♦ a maximum of 6 x $2,500 scholarships, 3 x $1,000 scholarships and 4 x $500 scholarships eligible for course work completed in the 2009/2010 academic year

A further $30,000 will be available for distribution by November 30, 2011.

Latvia at the Vancouver Olympic Games!

Here’s a page that has all the information you could ever want on the history of Latvian athletes in the Olympic Winter Games—it’s all in a handy .pdf guide that you can download and print! Note that page 3 has a handy viewing schedule to all the events that feature Latvian competitors during the Vancouver Games.

http://www.olimpiade.lv/vankuvera/english/

Of course, you could always view it in Latvian…

http://www.olimpiade.lv/vankuvera/raksts/sacencibu-kalendars/

February news and announcements…

Laimīgu Jauno Gadu    •   Happy New Year!!

This first newsletter of the year is to announce our Annual General Meeting, which will be held on Sunday, February 28th at 1:00 pm at the Laurier Heights Community Hall at  14405—85  Avenue (on 144th Street, access north from 80th Avenue). Refreshments will be served.

Please remember that seniors can phone any of the following for transportation to the meeting or any other event:
Yellow Cab   780-462-3456
Barrel Taxi   780-489-7777
Checker Cabs  780-484-8888
Vouchers will be available when you arrive and will also be provided for return travel. Seniors who make regular use of our taxi vouchers are asked to phone Inta at 780-963-3593 or Ena at 780-468-2728 if you need more vouchers sent to you.

Together with the Latvian congregation in Edmonton, IMANTA hosted a Christmas celebration (eglītes vakars) in December. Those who attended enjoyed piparkūkas and other treats, as well as a visit by a jolly ziemassvētku vecītis who brought gifts for the children. Ten children attended with their parents. It was a new experience for many of them and we hope to make this an annual event.

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Latvian mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča is performing Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera in New York this season. A January performance was recorded live and shown in Cineplex theatres across the country. It will be re-run on Saturday, March 13, at 1:00pm at the South Edmonton Common Cineplex and possibly other theatres (check the
listings). This is a spectacular performance! The very talented Garanča is rapidly becoming an audience favorite world-wide. It’s also not every day you can hear Latvian spoken on such a famous stage.

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IMANTA supported the St. Albert Prowlers Novice hockey team last year. This team will be playing an exhibition game against the Jasper Bears at the WEM Ice Palace on Saturday, February 27, at 11:30 am. If you’re able to watch them play, you’ll see an enthusiastic group of players that was very appreciative of our support.

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Our Latvian community has lost three members with the passing of Ilga Green, Erik Kalnins and Marge Gully. We offer our condolences to their family and friends.

Athabasca University is working on a project titled “Connecting Canadians: Canada’s Multicultural Newspaper” and is looking for up to 20 members to assist with content evaluation. This would involve spending approximately 2 hours with their staff, reading some Latvian newspapers from 1945-49 and providing feedback. They will help
anyone who is not comfortable using a computer.
This project is funded by the federal government. It is part of a larger archival record and they want to be sure their efforts will be useful in the future.  We hope many of you will respond for this survey.
If you are interested in participating, please email rudovics@telus.net or phone 780-468-2728 in the next few weeks. We are planning to meet with Athabasca University on the first weekend in March, to accommodate those who work during the week. The time and location will be confirmed shortly.

The University’s contact person was impressed that IMANTA has a blog, through which she was able to contact us. If you have not seen it yet, the link to the blog is  http://imantaedmonton.wordpress.com/ and we’re also on Facebook.

Fall Updates from IMANTA

Vasara uz beigām steidzas
Rudens vēji grib mūs sveikt…

Mūsu latviešu sabiedrībā ir daudz jaunumu kopš pēdējā apkārtraksta izsūtīšanas. Līgo svinēšana notika skaistā pēpusdienā ar 73 apmeklētājiem, starp tiem ari viesi no Latvijas, Oregonas, Britu Kolumbijas un Kalgārijas. Augustā viesojās Inita Daniele no Rīgas un mums bija divas aizņemtas un vērtīgas sēņošanu dienas un pārrunas ar šo sēņu eksperti. Kopš maija mēneša Edmontonā ir ieradušies divpadsmit jauni latvieši un nākamās dienās ir vēl trīs gaidāmi. Vēlam viņiem visu to labāko jaunu dzīvi uzsākot.

As we enjoy this belated summer and plan for fall, it’s also time to look back on all that has happened in our community since our last newsletter.
The Līgo celebration was another successful event with 73 participants, including guests from Latvia, Oregon, British Columbia and Calgary. It was wonderful to reconnect with old friends and meet new people. Many thanks to everyone who helped make it a great afternoon, and a special thank you to Martin Osis for providing the delicious roast pig. Congratulations to Inta London for winning the highly-contested pirāg-baking prize!

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Several members attended the Hamilton Song Festival, a busy and entertaining weekend which proved to everyone that smaller can be better. All concerts were easily accessible and the venues made it easier to feel involved. The next festival will be in Milwaukee in 2012.

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Our casino was held in mid-August. Jim McDonald did an outstanding job of organising volunteers, arranging shifts, and keeping everyone well-fed and happy with their duties. His job is the most difficult and we are very grateful for his help.Inita Daniele, a mushroom expert from Riga, was in Edmonton for two weeks in August. She was a dynamic, energetic guest. In addition to her work with the Alberta Mycological Society, she spent a weekend guiding our members through the Devonian Gardens and the wilds of Wildwood. It was a unique opportunity to gain knowledge about mushrooms found in our area. Martin provided additional colourful information and, once again, a delicious feast to celebrate the forays. We enjoyed our collaboration with the A.M.S. and look forward to other such opportunities in the future.

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Since mid-May, thirteen new Latvians have arrived in Edmonton for work or study. Three more are scheduled to arrive by the end of this month. They all face challenges in starting anew in a different country. We thank all those who contributed furniture or household goods to make
their transition easier.

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Congratulations to Laura and Egon Jonsson on the safe arrival of Thomas Edward in July, and congratulations to the Kononovs family on receiving permanent residency!

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IMANTA is starting a seniors’ transportation programme through Yellow Cab, using our casino funds. Taxi vouchers which have been sent to seniors on our mailing list may be used for transportation to doctors’ appointments, church services or social gatherings in the city area. If you did not receive your vouchers, please call Ena at 780-468-2728 or Inta at 780-963-3593.

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One of the guests at our Līgo celebration was a gentleman from Oregon who was researching his family tree. He had very little information and was interested in anything that could be related. His grandparents came to the Edmonton area almost 100 years ago and his father, George Lapin, was born here. He contacted IMANTA for information and, as we communicated with him, we realised our community has its own rich and colourful history which is in danger of being lost. Many of our members are seniors and have information and stories that should be shared. To this end, we are starting a long-term project to gather and centralise such information. Please start thinking about what facts and details you would like to share about your family, your origins, and how you came to Edmonton. More information will follow in future newsletters.

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Our November celebration will be held on Sunday, November 15th, at the Royal Glenora Club. It will feature the Swiss Men’s Choir and a delicious brunch. Details to follow.

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The DVD The Soviet Story is available to anyone who wishes to borrow it. Please call Ena.

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IMANTA has a blog! Here’s the link: http://imantaedmonton.wordpress.com
Huge thanks to Fawnda Mithrush for bringing us into the 21st century!

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If you would like to receive this newsletter electronically, please email rudovics@telus.net

Ar cieņu,
IMANTA

Senoshana: MUSHROOM WEEKEND!

IMANTA is very happy to annouce a visit by mycology expert Inita Daniele for this summer’s Senoshana Weekend, August 15 & 16. As the head of the Botany department at the Latvian Museum of Natural History, Daniele has written several mushroom field guides in Latvia, and will be giving talks translated by IMANTA’s own mycology expert and member of the Alberta Mycological Society, Martin Osis. Daniele will also be taking part in the Alberta Foray at Northern Lights College in Grouard, AB, from August 20-23 (info and registration available at http://www.wildmushrooms.ws).

Mushroom Walk:
A stroll through the Gardens’ interesting natural areas. Diverse areas will have many different examples of mushrooms. The walking here will generally be slow and fairly easy. Wear comfortable walking shoes, a hat, and a jacket in case it rains. Also bring a snack and some water.
When:
Saturday, August 15, 2009 – 12:00 – 4:00 pm.
Where: Devonian Botanic Gardens – Hwy 60, west of Edmonton. Meeting in the southwest corner of the parking lot between 11:30 & noon. Leaving the parking lot at 12:00 noon sharp.

And later that evening (7-9pm)…

A Mushroom Talk:
Latvian mushroom traditions ~ mushrooms found in the woods and in the kitchen. Refreshments and dessert will be served.
Where: Lithuanian Hall, 11629-83 Street.

Mushroom picking:
This will be out in the woods so there will not be trails to walk on and may mean some climbing over fallen logs and running away from bears. God willing, we will return to Rudovics’ property on Lake Isle for a Potluck / Barbeque supper at 4:00 pm (please email rudovics@telus.net for a map). With any luck we will have some mushrooms to cook and taste. For those of you who cannot make it for the full day, join us at 4:00 for the supper. After supper we will go for a short mushroom walk on the property. Wear comfortable walking shoes, a hat and a jacket in case it rains. Also bring a lunch, some water and a MUSHROOM BASKET!
When: Sunday, August 16, 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Where: Meet in Gainford, parking lot of Gainford Hotel (Hwy 16 near Lake Isle), leaving to foray at 10:00 am sharp.

IMANTA is now on facebook!

That’s right: we’ve caved to the latest web craze. Considering IMANTA is about Latvians coming together, joining the world’s largest social networking site is a great way to introduce new people to the group, and keep the existing members in contact with each other.

You can join IMANTA’s facebook group here, or by clicking the link below. (You’ll need to have a facebook account to join.) Please forward the group to anyone you know that may be interested in learning more about the organization and events. The more people who join, the more we can keep updated—and hopefully keep IMANTA’s membership in contact with each other!

http://www.facebook.com/inbox/?ref=mb#/group.php?gid=203561420075&ref=ts

We’ll still keep the updates growing on this blog, including the planned Senoshana/Mushroom afternoon coming up on August 15. Check back for details soon!

Oh, what a night!

Imanta’s annual Ligo celebration was a day of great fun, and will surely be remembered as one of the most eventful gatherings of Edmonton’s Latvian community. Over 70 attendees made the trek to the Rud0vics’ property at Lake Isle on June 27th, with guests coming from as far as Portland Oregon and Riga. It was a full day of wreath-making, fire-jumping, pierag tasting, and pig-roasting. Of course, there were many reunions of old friends and introductions of new members and visitors. Thanks to all who attended!

Some highlights:

The master roaster himself parades the day's work to the dinner table.
Making daisy and oak wreaths
Making daisy and oak wreaths
The judges carefully chew at the Pierag Tasting.
The judges carefully chew at the Pierag Tasting.
The weather couldn't have been any better. Sveiks!
The weather couldn't have been any better. Sveiks!

Ligo Ligo!

ligoIt’s time to celebrate the summer solstice!

IMANTA invites you to their annual Līgo celebration at Lake Isle on Saturday, June 27th, anytime after 2pm (for a map, email imantaedmonton@gmail.com).

Jāņi is a traditional midsummer festival that marks the longest day and shortest night of the year.  Jāņi customs—which include much singing, dancing and merriment, as well as leaping over the fire and burning last Midsummer’s wreaths—are believed to bring the aid of good spirits into the home, barn, field, and forest.  As an old Līgo song says: “he who sleeps during Jāņi will sleep for the whole summer!” Kas gulēs Jāņu naktī, gulēs visu vasariņ!

ligofoodWreath-making will start at 3pm and some flowers will be provided, but please bring flowers and oak branches if you can. There will be piragi-tasting and cheese-tasting contests as well, and we hope for many entries as last year’s winner defends his title. We will provide roast pork, wieners, salads, rye bread, cheese, dessert and refreshments. Bring a lawnchair for your own use. There will be a bonfire later, weather permitting. Remember to bring your old wreaths to throw on the fire.