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On May 11-12, the 2nd Greek Canadian Studies conference took place at York University. The conference started on May 11 with an event to thank the people who over a number of years have contributed to the creation of the Hellenic Heritage Foundation Greek Canadian Archives; the Hellenic Heritage Foundation, the Dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, JJ McMurtry, York Libraries Archives staff who have volunteered their time, especially Director Michael Moir, and tens of Greeks in Canada have shared their life stories, and some of them their collections of books, newspapers and photographs. Together with Chris Grafos, back in 2012 when Chris was a graduate student in the York University History Department, we started the journey to create a home for various collections of documents, newspapers, photographs, books, and digitized interviews with Greeks in Canada. In 2021, the Greek Canadian History Project evolved into the HHF Greek Canadian Archives with the generous donation of $1.4 million from the Hellenic Heritage Foundation and the various contributions by York University to match the amount. The financial support that is already available has enabled the appointment of the Archives Director and Research Lead, Bill Molos, and the search for an archivist specializing on the processing of existing and future collections is underway. People representing all the institutions that have supported the York University Chair in Modern Greek History and the Greek Canadian Archives were present: the HHF board member Sandra Gionas, the Greek Consul General Panayiotis Antonatos, whose predecessor Victor Maligoudis donated hundreds of books to the York Library collections, the President of the Greek Community Betty Skoutaki, Michalis Mouratidis, and donors of book collections such as Smaro Kambourelis, others who have shared their life stories in interviews, and supporters of the Archives such as Bill Fatsis, Tryfon Haitas, June Samaras, and many more.
The HHF Greek Canadian Archives acquires, preserves, and provides access to documents and rare books related to the Greek immigrant experience in Canada. Specific items include photos, letters, books, video and audio tapes newspapers, and posters. These records have an enduring value to support research and learning by the university’s faculty, students, a community of international scholars, and the public. The central theme of this year’s conference was “Diversity in Greekness.” We invited participants to discuss how Greekness has been conceptualized and enacted in the modern era. Bill Molos and Chris Grafos opened the conference to introduce a narrative of how the Greek experience in Canada has changed over time, while Yiorgos Anagnostou and Andonis Piperoglou (from Melbourne via Zoom) offered a Greek American and Greek Australian perspective. On May 12, Themis Aravossitas presented on the current state of Greek language education in Canada; Marianne Apostolides and Tina Poulimenos Tzatzanis, acclaimed and aspiring authors respectively, academics, independent researchers, such as Beth Compta who is working on the 1918 anti-Greek riots, and George Katinas and Paula Antonakos-Boswell who have created the Kingston Greek History Project, were given a platform to share fresh insights into what it has meant to be Greek in Canada historically and what it means today. Theo Xenophontos, graduate student in Film and Media at York, presented his own Greek Cypriot Canadian collection of interviews and analysis. Colleagues from Anthropology, Othon Alexandrakis, Effrosyni Rantou, and Georgia Koumantaros showed how comparative and/or interdisciplinary approaches can advance our understanding of Greeks in Canada and groups in Greece such as unaccompanied migrant children and mineworkers in Chalkidiki. Alexandros Balasis offered a critique on the existing Immigrec virtual museum collection of audio interviews and discussed the agency of migrants, while Angelo Laskaris presented the impressive and moving collection of interviews that tell the story of Greeks in Canada memories from their childhood from the often traumatic 1940s in Greece. The papers presented by the team of the HHF Greek Canadian Archives complemented approaches from Greek American and Greek Australian Studies, pointing towards the emergence of a Global Greek Diaspora History network, primarily with scholars of Greek American and Greek Australian history. There is a lot to do still, but with the creation of the HHF Greek Canadian Archives we seem to be on the right track. Stay tuned for our 3rd conference next year!
You can find out more about the HHF Greek Canadian Archives at

May 19, 2023

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