Martin C. Barry
Elected officials from federal, provincial and municipal governments gathered alongside Laval residents of Greek heritage at the War Cenotaph near Laval city hall on March 23 to pay homage to the early 19th century Greeks who fought valiantly so the modern day Greek Republic would be independent.
Important historic event
On March 25, 1821 in what was then Ottoman-dominated Greece, Bishop Germanos of the metropolis of Patras blessed a Greek flag and proclaimed an uprising by the Greeks against the occupying Ottomans. The event marked the beginning of the Greek Revolution which continued until 1832 when the Republic of Greece was proclaimed and was recognized by the world’s nations.
To honour those who gave their lives so that Greece would be free, Greeks from Laval and from all over the Montreal region go each year to the cenotaph outside Laval city hall to deposit commemorative wreaths and to spend a moment in silent contemplation. In the Montreal region, Laval has the highest concentration of residents of Greek heritage.
Remembering the heroes
Among those depositing commemorative wreaths at the base of the monument were Consul General for Greece in Montreal Michalis Gavriilidis, Liberal MPs Fayçal El-Khoury, Eva Nassif and Emmanuella Lambropoulos, Quebec Liberal MNA Monique Sauvé, Laval city councillors Aglaia Revelakis, Vasilios Karidogiannis and executive-committee vice-president Stéphane Boyer, and Villeray/St-Michel/Parc Extension Borough Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli.
As well, wreaths were left by officials from the Hellenic Community of Quebec, the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal and Greek Canadian armed forces veterans. Immediately after the ceremony, those attending were invited into Laval city hall where a reception was held, and a few dignitaries gave speeches and signed the City of Laval’s Golden Book for visitors.
More than a century here
Representing Mayor Marc Demers, executive-committee vice-president Stéphane Boyer spoke briefly at the beginning of the reception. “As you no doubt already know, the Greek community has been present in Quebec for more than 100 years and is more and more present in Laval,” he noted.
“In Laval, we have around 17,000 persons who speak Greek often, and when you take into consideration second and third generations there are nearly 30,000 people in Laval who are of Greek origin. This is something considerable and is one of the largest and most important communities in Laval.”
Boyer pointed out that Greeks also play an important role in Laval’s economy, as well as in its political and cultural spheres. “And so it is a community that is extremely important for us. We are very, very pleased that you are here today,” he added.
Greek Consul General in Montreal Michalis Gavriilidis thanked all those who turned out on a sunny but cool and blustery day. “It may be cold outside, but it is warm in our hearts today,” he said.
“In Quebec there is Greek community which has been established quite a long time, and which is flourishing within Canada,” said Gavriilidis. “I am very happy to be here today to see your success.”
He said he looked forward to continuing the tradition of gathering for Greek Independence Day at Laval city hall around March 25 every year.