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Top 5 takeaways from 19th KESKUS community engagement session

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

Update #197

The 19th Community Engagement Session for KESKUS International Estonian Centre took place on November 5, 2023 in hybrid form, both in-person at Tartu College in Toronto, and via Zoom.

All aspects of the projects had updates, from construction progress, to budget, capital campaign, community groups, territorial land acknowledgement, catering, bistro, tenanting and of course, the projected opening date.

Thanks go to all of the presenters who kindly recorded their segments, below, all of the volunteer board members, to Merli Tamtik for joining to consult for the project, to Nicole Pede and Taavi Tamtik for volunteer tech support, to Karin Ivand for moderating the Q&A.

Organisations were invited for a hard hat tour of the construction site prior to the meeting.

Project lead Ellen Valter opened the session with a tribute to Priit Vesilind, a champion of KESKUS, who passed away early in November. Read more about reflections on the life of Priit Vesilind here. The video clip with the agenda and the introduction to the session is here.

Below is a summary of the top five takeaways with short video clips that provide greater detail:

1. Current market conditions for construction

KESKUS development manager David Kalm reviewed the current market conditions that are affecting KESKUS, and fortunately KESKUS has experienced less inflation than the local market for construction, but construction prices for the KESKUS project have nevertheless jumped by 33%.

David reviews this and other factors affecting the budget in this clip (or click on image).

2. Territorial land acknowledgement

Prof. Merli Tamtik is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba whose research focuses on the issues around higher education, decolonization, and settlers' role in empowering Indigenous knowledges and communities in Canada.

Prof. Tamtik will serve as a co-thinker and consultant in the process of crafting the territorial land acknowledgement for KESKUS. In this clip, she explains all of this, and why on this topic too, KESKUS is leading the way.

3. Operating / business plan

International Estonian Centre Inc. board chair Heili Toome provides updates on the operating plan and processes for commercial leases, engaging with the events business and developing the bistro space.

With lease negotiations with anchor tenant Northern Birch Credit Union finalised, the operating plan begins to move from market rates to actuals.

3. When is the opening, what days will what group use the Centre?

Construction is more than halfway through the schedule! David Kalm reviews the remainder of construction, and the projected schedule to opening celebrations in the video clip.

Pia Poolsaar, and Tiina Paluoja, both directors of Estonian House in Toronto Ltd., are active Toronto Estonian community members who have committed to coordinate transition of community activities to KESKUS. As opening draws near, Pia and Tiina will continue to work with the designated group representatives via the uuskodu [at] email address for these communications.

The legal entity of Estonian House in Toronto Ltd. continues and will transition to a new form under new legislation. The shareholder registry cleanup will be a work stream for 2024, as Veiko Parming, President of Estonian House in Toronto Ltd, explains in this clip.

5. Capital campaign - Saagu KESKUS!

Saving the most important part for #5 - the capital campaign for KESKUS is launching the "Saagu KESKUS - count me in!" public campaign to help get KESKUS to completion!

Please go to to make your pledge when the two-day campaign goes live on November 22! It will take all of us to give to the best of our ability. And with tax rules changing in 2024 (read more here), all the more reason to give in 2023!

Estonian Arts Centre is the charity associated with KESKUS and issues tax receipts for donations made in Canada. But it does so much more! Liisa Käärid, board chair of Estonian Arts Centre takes us through some of the charitable activities that EAC has undertaken, and what lies ahead. This includes some suggestions for your Christmas shopping!

Please sign up for the KESKUS newsletter here, and follow KESKUS on social media for capital campaign and construction updates.

Thanks go to all of the presenters who kindly recorded their segments, below, all of the volunteer board members, to Merli Tamtik for joining to consult for the project, to Nicole Pede and Taavi Tamtik for volunteer tech support, to Karin Ivand for moderating the Q&A.



Get involved and help support our future

More than half of the construction is now behind us! Please join our growing list of capital campaign donors to help bring this extraordinary project to completion.

The KESKUS International Estonian Centre’s donor categories are Kalevipoja laud for gifts over $100,000 (including naming rights for specific areas), Koidula gild, which is from $50,000-99,999, Viru vanemad for gifts of $10,000-$49,999, and Kungla rahvas for gifts up to $10,000. KESKUS leadership donors are recognized here.

To make a donation, please call +1.647.250.7136 or email Donations may be made as a family gift, or in honour of an individual or family. All donations are issued a tax receipt, in Canada via Estonian Arts Centre, US tax receipts via KBFUS and Estonian tax receipts via Eesti Rahvuskultuuri Fond.

For November 22 & 23, 2023, donate via

Let’s keep in touch!

  • Visit the KESKUS website for all the latest news

  • Sign up for the KESKUS monthly email newsletter

  • Follow us on Facebook @EestiKeskus, Twitter @keskus, Instagram @keskus.iec


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