For Merike Remmel and Eric Jakobson, the reason they have stepped forward with a donation to the new International Estonian Centre (IEC) is simple: they want to be part of the palpable excitement that this new gathering place presents and help make it a reality.
“This whole project captures the imagination, it’s exciting and will breathe new life into the community,” said Merike.
Merike, who is Director of Admissions at the University of Toronto and Eric, a contractor, live in Toronto. Both grew up in the city’s Estonian community and participated in numerous events and organizations such as folk dancing, Estonian schools, summer camps, gymnastics and scouts. They remain active in their respective sorority and fraternity and Merike continues to sit on a number of Estonian boards.
The couple have two children: Liis, 26 and Hendrik, 23.
“We continue to feel very involved in the community. We go to and enjoy the many Estonian events that go on in Toronto,” Eric said. “The new centre gives us a focus – it will also provide a place for people to get together, to socialize informally and meet up with friends.”
The IEC vision is very appealing to Merike and Eric.
“It’s a live vision, not just bricks and mortar,” Merike explains. “We have such a feeling of pride in what we are doing as a community.”
The couple say they are also very impressed with the calibre of the people who are involved in guiding the project – from the design and construction to the legal and financial aspects.
“We really appreciate the complexity of the project and the way things are being managed in such a competent and professional way,” Merike said.
Developing the new IEC is also a way to pave the way for future generations.
“As parents you want to do the best for your children. This project will help give them a strong future as Estonians,” Eric said.
“It elevates us as a community, and broadens our connection with each other, locally and globally. It’s inspiring.”
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