Ask any Estonian to define one of the most enjoyable aspects of a gathering of friends and family, and often the answer is simple: it’s the food.
Warm memories of family kitchens and traditional foods have long figured prominently in the lives of people with Estonian roots. It stands to reason, therefore, that the heart of the new KESKUS International Estonian Centre, in development in downtown Toronto, will be the kitchen.
But this will not be just any ordinary kitchen – the key ingredient in the mix here will be the development of a professional culinary hub. The goal is to design a professional and modern catering space where everything from “suupisted” (hors d'oeuvres) for cocktail receptions of hundreds to intimate multi-course dinners can be prepared.
“In loving memory of our parents, who chose Canada”
Stepping forward to help make the catering kitchen a reality is generous support by donors who wish to remain anonymous, an Ontario couple of Estonian heritage who believe strongly in helping the community grow, prosper and settle into a delicious future.
Their Kalevipoja Laud level ($100,000and above) donation pays tribute to all those who came before them to build the vibrant community we are proud of today.
“We are supporting the development of this wonderful new space in memory and honour of our family, of our parents and grandparents, and indeed all those who came to Canada to start new lives.”
Donation supports modern catering kitchen
“We absolutely need a first-class kitchen to support the events and business at KESKUS. It will help make the centre a sustainable and successful gathering place. It’s a big project and has to stand on its own,” note the anonymous donors.
The donation will ensure that a state-of-the-art catering kitchen can be developed to support the multitude of events that will take place at KESKUS including weddings, conferences, meetings, cultural and community events and other family and business gatherings.
“Being part of the Estonian community has enriched us beyond measure,” the couple explain. “Having a gathering place, a home, is so very important. We want to help build that same sense of community and belonging for the future.”
“We are proud, grateful Canadians who love our Estonian heritage!”
Our parents and grandparents led the way
The couple recount how, when Estonians first arrived in Canada, many received a helping hand from other Estonians who had already settled here. This often included offering room in their homes, lending money and helping find employment.
They built and established community spaces, such as Toronto’s Estonian House and summer camps, frequently with volunteer expertise and labour.
“Estonians are hard-working, driven people. Our parents wanted us to achieve and did everything they could so we could be successful. They understood what was needed, and that meant everyone had to pull together.”
“The community worked together in those early years to help each other. Now it is time for us to be doing the same.”
KESKUS location is second to none
The couple are also very pleased with the KESKUS location in a dynamic part of the city of Toronto known as the “Bloor Street Culture Corridor,” which is also home to many major institutions such as the University of Toronto, Royal Ontario Museum, Royal Conservatory of Music and other attractions.
“We are very fortunate to be in this incredible location, and that Tartu College and the proposed VEMU attraction will be right next door. It will be a strong community centre that brings all our activities together.”
“We will take pride in this building”
They reiterate that the reason the community is able to build this incredible new home is because of the foresight of previous generations, and the way they instilled knowledge of what it means to be Estonian in their children and grandchildren.
“The legacy of our parents and grandparents has made us who we are. We firmly believe that having that second culture and roots in Europe gives us a broad perspective on world affairs. It makes us better, more tolerant people because of our parents having come here as refugees.”
Now, it is time to prepare for the future.
“We’d like this rich history to continue in a modern and sustainable setting. We will take pride in this building, and are eternally grateful for the dedication and passion of those leading the project that makes it possible.”
Please mark March 24th at 7pm in your calendar for a virtual community engagement session, details here, and follow the KESKUS journey as it moves through construction, by signing up for the KESKUS monthly newsletter here.
KESKUS valued donors make a critical difference!
KESKUS International Estonian Centre’s donor categories are Kalevipoja Laud for gifts of $100,000 and above (including naming rights for specific areas), Viru Vanemad for gifts of $10,000 and above, and Kungla Rahvas for gifts under $10,000. KESKUS leadership donors are recognized here.
To make a donation, please call +1.647.250.7136 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations may be made as a family gift, or in honour of an individual or family and leadership gifts can be paid over time. All donations are issued a tax receipt.
Let’s keep in touch!