top of page

New energy and expertise at the helm of International Estonian Centre Inc.

Updated: Jan 20, 2021

Update #87

Along with the new International Estonian Centre in Toronto being slated to break

ground, the team shepherding the build and the Centre’s ongoing operations is also

taking shape.

International Estonian Centre Inc. (IECI) is owned by Estonian House in Toronto Limited

and is the entity responsible for building the Centre and for its sustainable operations.

New directors have agreed to join the board and are ready to roll up their sleeves to

make the community’s new home the best it can be.

IECI will focus on oversight of the new centre’s construction, refining the facilities

management plan and the events business plan, and tenanting the leasable space. It

will also further develop the sustainability plan for the centre to generate community


While the IEC Steering Committee will continue to be available to advise, it is the IECI

board’s job to get this building built. “It is a testament to the mammoth effort and vision

of so many over the past several years, that the project attracts the subject-matter

expertise and enthusiasm of these new board members,” said IEC Steering Committee

Chair, Ellen Valter. “This team is well equipped to lead the charge. With groundbreaking

for this landmark building nearly at hand, we are on the threshold of a most exciting and

important phase of realizing this beautiful new home for our local, national and

international Estonian community.”

Why the Centre inspires these volunteers to contribute their skills:

Kalev Hess, B.Comm, CPA, CA, CFA, Principal with Fraser Mackenzie Merchant Capital, a private equity and mezzanine debt fund that invests in private companies and works with management and owners to optimize financial performance. “The IEC project represents a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to bring a renewed energy and cohesion to all generations of the Estonian community. I'm hopeful this excitement will serve to inspire old friends to reconnect and new friendships to be made. Eestlus has always been such a significant part of my life, and ensuring that future generations have the same opportunity to understand and explore their heritage is important to me. The IEC will be central to providing such opportunities to our youth. We must ensure that it operates in a way that is financially viable, both now and into the future.”


Laas Hess, B.B.A., J.D., in-house lawyer with Loblaw Companies in real estate law and commercial leasing. Laas has been involved in strengthening local and international relations between Estonians in Canada and the Baltic Region of the European Union and, most recently, as an Estonian House board member. “The Estonian community

has been a major part of my life. I’ve spent countless hours at the Estonian House and Tartu College and now have four young children. I want to make sure they have a place where they can go.”


Veiko Parming, B.A.Sc., M.S.T., Principal Consultant with CPCS Transcom Limited specializing in transportation sector policy, economics and strategy, and now serving his third term as president of the Estonian House. “I’ve been very involved in the Estonian community for a long time. The momentum we have to build the new centre is really strong now, and I’m keenly interested to see this new Centre get built and work well for

our community. I look forward to working with this expanded team to help make the Centre a success.”


Blake Royer, BA, MBA, Co-Founder and President of RFA Labs, which builds

technology platforms for the mortgage industry is a serial entrepreneur familiar with bootstrappoing a small team to take an idea into reality, with wide experience in finance, technology and energy sectors; he is also an Estonian House board member. “The strength of the Estonian community in Toronto is extraordinary and unique in the world.

As my kids get involved and adopt their Estonian identity, I see that the new centre is for their future. I’m honoured to volunteer my time to make this a success.”


Bob Spokowski, B. Eng., M. Eng., a 40-year veteran of the construction industry and former structural engineer and project manager with PCL Construction, an innovator in major building projects. He oversaw complex projects such as the construction of three subway tunnels in Toronto and other structures in Canada and the U.S. “My wife is Estonian and I’ve been hearing about this project for some time. Now I’m into it. I’ve looked through the plans and drawings and the more information I get on the new centre, the more impressed I am. There is a great team in place here, all the research

has been done, and we’re ready to go.”


Martin Tiidus, BA, LL.B., J.D., lawyer with over 30 years’ experience in the field of civil litigation and alternate dispute resolution with extensive trial and appellate experience representing major property and casualty insurers. “When I look back at what our parents achieved for our community with very few resources, it’s the inspiration we can

use to keep going. We have the opportunity with this project to create something very special that we can all be proud of. For me, getting involved is a way to give back to the community I grew up with.”


Heili Toome, B.Comm, vice-president of marketing for Shift Transit, a leading mobility operations company including the popular Bike Share program in Toronto. A skilled team builder, Heili has launched and scaled startups as well as established brands, exceeding customer and revenue targets. A long time Estonian community volunteer and leader, she is fully aligned with the future the Centre represents. “I am very much invested in the future of the Estonian community and I see this Centre as the central pillar for this. I want a place for all things Estonian for my kids to call home, just as I had growing up. I’m truly honoured to be part of this team to contribute my passion and skills to help take the right steps to secure a bright future for our community as a whole.”


Get involved and help support our future

Are you interested in helping build this spectacular new home for the global Estonian community? Please join our growing list of capital campaign donors! The International Estonian Centre’s donor categories are Kalevipoja Laud for gifts over $100,000 (including naming rights for specific areas), for gifts over $10,000, and Kungla Rahvas for gifts up to $10,000. Stay tuned for the launch of the Kungla Rahvas campaign in 2021.

To make a donation, please contact

Donations may be made as a family gift, or in honour of an individual or family. All Canadian and U.S. donations will be issued a tax receipt.


Let’s keep in touch!


bottom of page