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Katrin Kütti-Otsa: Volunteer & donor

Update #187

Every task helps build a strong future

If there’s a volunteer role Katrin Kütti-Otsa hasn’t tackled, it probably hasn’t been invented. This dedicated community volunteer has contributed to a wide range of causes since growing up in Toronto’s Estonian community and doesn’t seem to be slowing down in the slightest.

“Volunteering is the backbone of our community,” says Katrin from her home in Mississauga. “I’ve gotten back as much as I’ve given. All these volunteer opportunities have given me the chance to meet some amazing people.”

Family photo,  large bouquet of flowers
Katrin with her parents, Asko & Ellen Kütti, and brother Toomas at her confirmation.

Modelling what you're shown

She credits her parents Ellen and Asko Kütti with instilling in her the desire to get involved.

“You model what you’ve been shown.” Katrin explains that she and her brother Toomas “just naturally evolved into the community.”

Asko, now 97 and a Viru Vanemad donor to Estonian Arts Centre, the charity associated with KESKUS International Estonian Centre, lives at Ehatare retirement home in Toronto and Katrin is proud of the fact that her son Eduard, now 27, speaks with him in Estonian, and provides simultaneous translations of the conversations to his English-speaking girlfriend. “My father thinks that is great!”

Family is everything: Katrin with brother Toomas; Katrin's son Eduard; Katrin's father Asko

Women's rahvatants weekend workshop is Katrin’s latest challenge

One of Katrin’s upcoming volunteer roles is as “head chef” for the women’s weekend Estonian folkdance workshop “Nou Pois Aläud-II”, taking place at the Jõekääru summer camp property about an hour north of Toronto, from Sept. 15-17. This is the second such workshop, which last year drew 60 enthusiastic participants to learn from expert instructors who were invited from Estonia.

Katrin and her team of four assistant cooks this year, will provide sustenance for the high-energy weekend, and she got rave reviews last year for the thoughtful menu that combined healthy choices in a range of tasty offerings. It was a menu that took into account every dietary restriction or allergy.

No stranger to camp kitchens, Katrin (right), Kotkajärve camp's volunteer "mom-cooks" a few years ago.

With a background in exercise, physiology, and the role nutrition plays, she knows just how to feed everyone so they have the staying power needed to dance through the weekend.

“I love the challenge of making sure that everyone gets what they need.”

For more information on the weekend workshop, go to, registration closes September 8.

Education plays a strong role in her volunteer interests

Katrin is a retired elementary school teacher. She has been the Toronto Estonian Kindergarten principal, was an instructor for TERR Kungla folkdance troupe’s beginner group, held counsellor roles at both summer camps Seedrioru and Jõekääru, as well as sports camps ‘Sportlaager’ and ‘Kalev Võrkpalli Laager’ (volleyball camp). She has given both time and returned any honoraria to support the programs for the participants.

Involvement in the community is a lifelong love for Katrin, as young camper then counsellor and now her kringel is sought after for community events and celebrations.

Katrin's strong Estonian language skills have enabled her to provide another valuable volunteer role, translating articles for the KESKUS blog. How did her Estonian language develop so strongly? Again, she credits her parents for the foundation and the community at large as the opportunity to use and apply it.

“The more active I was, and the more I volunteer work I did, the better I got,” she explains. “I had the good fortune to use it often, and of course, we always spoke Estonian at home.”

Katrin also teaches Estonian to adult community members who attend the Hamilton Estonian School.

The future is bright!

A Kungla Rahvas donor to KESKUS, Katrin is excited about the future of the Estonian community.

“I love the idea that we are moving forward and building a place not just for our children, but their children as well – one that will be safe, modern, relevant, and well maintained,” she said. “It will be a special place for the community, and its doors will be open to all.”

“Our community has evolved with subsequent generations and we need accept the fact we are no longer the very specific population we once were,” she continues. “We must comprehend what the trajectory is going to be, plan and build accordingly and be proactive and positive going forward, so that next generations will continue to find value in recognizing themselves as part of the community.”

"Nou Pois Äläud-I" first rehearsal at the inaugural workshop in 2022. Katrin returns for NPÄ-II this September 15-17, to again take care of nourishment for participants.

Katrin sees this effort as, quite simply, essential.

Katrin is a model for future generations, just as she was at the beginning of her remarkable volunteer history. “I was raised by all of our Estonian organizations. They contributed to my growth, and I want that to continue.”


Get involved and help support our future

Please join our growing list of capital campaign donors to help bring this extraordinary project to completion. 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.

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