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Volunteer profile: Hedy Läets believes in giving back and looking forward

Update #192

If ever there was a fresh young example of Estonian grit and determination, surely it would be 23 year-old Hedy Läets, who moved to Canada with a one-way ticket and hasn’t looked back.

Born and raised in the village of Salme, a half-hour from Kuressaare on the island of Saaremaa, Estonia, Hedy attended high school in Tallinn. Her interest in the world of media production began early on, when she worked as a production assistant for a reality television show in Tallinn.

She began her travels when she moved to the state of Indiana in the U.S. as an exchange student. After her time in the U.S., she knew she wanted to study film and television, and as she was searching online for her next educational challenge in media, she spotted an ad for Centennial College in Toronto. She applied, was accepted, but then the Covid pandemic hit.

One-way ticket to Canada

“I did the first semester of school remotely from Saaremaa, attending classes at midnight!”

Director with clapperboard on film set
Hedy Läets on a film set

After that first semester, she was able to come to Canada and finish the rest of the three-year program in person.

“I bought a one-way ticket and came here in January,” she said. “I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t have any friends or relatives here, but it seemed like a good option.”

Once settled, Hedy reached out to the Estonian community in Toronto via social media and soon started a part-time job with Northern Birch Credit Union as a member services representative.

“I didn’t think I’d connect so strongly to the Estonian community here, I was ready to just continue with my Canadian and international friends,” she recalls “But when those connections happened, they felt so right. I’m really glad I took that first step.”

Hedy says working at NBCU has been a great way to get to know people.

“It’s been so interesting to learn all the different perspectives here,” she explains “Even Estonians born in Canada are so Estonian in their heart.”

Volunteer spirit to help get things done

Hedy has also plunged into volunteerism in her characteristically enthusiastic way and provides media production services to KESKUS International Estonian Centre, the Estonian diaspora’s new flagship building in downtown Toronto, currently in construction.

Hedy regularly edits the monthly construction update videos that are viewed hundreds of times every month, and sometimes spiking to almost a thousand views. They have become an anticipated marker of the progress on the site.

Further, Hedy has helped bring other KESKUS projects to fruition: videos for the highly successful “Tere, KESKUS!” fundraising campaign,the “Lääst Blääst” celebration at the beloved former Estonian House on Broadview Avenue that brought some 700 party-goers to say farewell to the old building, and the final performance from the recent ‘Nou Pois Äläud-II’ women’s weekend folkdance retreat.

Ruudi Productions gets under sail

Hedy will also continue to do this through her newly formed media production company called Ruudi Productions, which she started with three Centennial College classmates.

Ruudi Productions is a team of four: Ashley directs; Alejandro is behind the camera; Nick is the editor; and Hedy is the producer. While each of them has a different cultural background, their passion for storytelling brings them together.

Ruudi is the name of Hedy’s sweet 12 year-old dachshund, who lives with her family on Saaremaa.

Hedy and her boyfriend Nick, who is the editor at Ruudi Productions, went to Estonia this summer to see her family, including Ruudi, who no doubt walks a little taller knowing he’s the mascot of her new venture. She goes home to Saaremaa as often as she can.

Hedy loves the idea of KESKUS and, besides her volunteer work, knows just how she will be involved.

"Estonians are my people"

“KESKUS will be so awesome, I will bring all my international friends here too, it will become a regular place for us to get together.”

Hedy says she has been to many international functions and believes Estonians are superb at organizing events and bringing people together. “We have a problem-solving mentality, we know how to figure things out and make them work.”

But one thing is for certain: “Estonians are my people, and I will always do my part to contribute and help," says Hedy, “I’m where I’m supposed to be.”

For more information on Ruudi Productions, go to


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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