Several hundred patriotic Greek Montrealers gathered at the Hellenic Community Centre in Côte des Neiges on the evening of Friday March 22 for a gala dinner to celebrate one of the most important dates in the history of the Hellenes – Greek Independence Day.
For Greeks around the world, March 25, 1821 marked the beginning of the revolutionary fight that ended 400 years of Ottoman rule. Following a protracted war in which Greek patriots received support from Russia, Britain and France, Greece finally received recognition from the world as an independent nation in 1832.
At the head table
Among the dignitaries seated at the head table were Greek Consul General in Montreal Michalis Gavriilidis, Saint-Laurent Liberal MP Emmanuella Lambropoulos, Villeray/St-Michel/Parc Extension Borough Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli, Park Extension city councillor Mary Deros, Bordeaux-Cartierville city councillor Effie Giannou, Laval-Les Îles Liberal MP Fayçal El-Khoury, Laval city councillor for Chomedey Aglaia Revelakis, Saint-Laurent Borough Mayor Alan DeSousa and Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal President Nicholaos T. Pagonis.
A choir of children from Montreal-area Greek schools demonstrated their proficiency in the Greek language while performing Hellenic folk songs and reciting works of Greek poetry. The national anthems of Greece and Canada were sung by Ioustini Montzenigos, a secondary two student at École Socrates-Démosthène and Christina Mihalakos, a secondary one student at the Montreal campus of École Aristotelis.
Official Parade Marshall
As is customary at the Independence Day gala each year, the official “Marshall” for the parade on Sunday was introduced. This year it was Dr. Apostolos Papageorgiou, Chief of Pediatrics and Neonatology at the Jewish General Hospital. Papageorgiou is also a Professor of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology at McGill University.
“This goes straight to the heart,” Dr. Papageorgiou said in an interview with Newsfirst Multimedia. Although he has received many professional recognitions during his 40-year career in medicine, he said the Montreal Greek community’s gesture of acknowledgement touched him deeply.
Hellene of the Year
The 2019 Hellene of the Year (chosen by a nominating committee that included Rev. Fr. Dimitrios Antonopoulos, Dr. Lila Amiralli of the McGill University Department of Child Psychiatry and HCGM vice-president Andy Crilis) was Dimitri Tzotzis.
Born in western Macedonia, Tzotzis came to Montreal in 1976 with his wife Tasoula with whom he had two children. Since then, Tzotzis has become renowned among Greeks in Montreal, across Canada and in the U.S. for his promotion of traditional Hellenic folk dancing and the traditional costumes worn by the dancers.