By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
The history of the Greek community is a long and storied one in Durham Region.
Therefore the Greek Community of Oshawa and Area invites the public to join them in celebrating Hellenic Heritage Month throughout March.
This is the first time both the City of Oshawa and Town of Whitby have given Hellenic Heritage Month formal proclamation.
“It’s a privilege to be able to share our culture with the community at large,” says Susan Andrews, executive director of the Greek Community of Oshawa and Area. “We’ve been part of the Durham Region landscape for 49 years.”
Andrews says there is a “significant Greek population” in Durham Region, and it continues to grow.
The Greek Community of Oshawa and Area was founded almost five decades ago by four founders, Thomas Sakellarakos, Ted Tsagrinos, Cleanthes Chrysostamou and Bill Makris.
The vision of the organization is to preserve and promote Hellenic heritage in the local community, something that continues on today.
The organization offers a wide variety of services for citizens of Greek descent, ranging from cooking classes to social events.
They also run an accredited Greek school, which offers a curriculum based on the nation’s language, music, dance, and traditions.
Andrews notes they revamped the curriculum for the current school year, and the reaction has been tremendous, with enrolment up nearly 40 per cent.
Maria Makris, the wife of founder Bill Makris, says people of Greek descent are extremely proud of their heritage.
“I am a Canadian citizen, but my roots are Greek. I love Canada, but I am very proud to be Greek,” she says.
She notes her husband is dedicated to making sure that pride continues on with future generations.
“He wants to pass something onto the kids. Around the holidays, he gathers all the young ones, and they bring $10 of their own money. They go shopping for groceries, they buy socks, gloves, and scarves, and then two days before Christmas they deliver them to local shelters,” Makris explains. “You should see how proud the kids are.”
The Greek Community of Oshawa and Area has numerous events planned to celebrate
Hellenic Heritage Month.
Highlights include a presentation on Greek-Canadian immigration and the Greek presence in Oshawa with Dr. Anthansios Gekas, an associate professor at York University, and the pageant recognizing Greek Independence Day with performances by local students.
For more information on the Greek Community of Oshawa and Area, and a full listing of Hellenic Heritage Month events, visit ourgreekcommunity.com