Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the 9th monthly episode of Hellenic DNA. The online newscast in America maybe based in New York, but it also travels wherever there are Greeks of Diaspora. Our goal is to capture the pulse of the Greek community, aspiring to leave a legacy with images and sound to the next generations, as well as to spread the Greek culture and language. Today, we travel to Montreal, Canada, and visit the Greek community, which serves the daily needs of 80,000 Greeks living and working in that city of Canada. Keep in mind that all topics can be viewed individually, and separately on our website www.hellenicdna.com, with subtitles in both English and Greek, as well as the channel’s social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Today, in the 9th Episode of Hellenic DNA from our studio in New York, you will be able to watch the following: Nikos Gavalas. A benefactor of Hellenism is honored by the Amorgos and Islands Association of NY. He talks on camera about his life in America as well as his beloved Amorgos. In the Greater Montreal Greek Community, we met Nikolaos Pagonis, a vigorous Greek man who was the elected President of the Greek Community for four consecutive terms. The First Conference of Greek Education in America, organized by the Holy Archdiocese of America, took place in the Saint Nicholas Community of Flushing. The Greek participation of GNTO in the International Tourism and Travel Show in Montreal, Canada, is part of the national strategy in order to increase Greece’s inbound traveller flow 365 days a year. Hellenic DNA has always been on the side of any Greek effort. The highlights from the opening and closing nights of the New York City Greek Film Festival. This year’s Festival program, with an international character, surpasses 50 films, a record-breaking figure in the institute’s history. The school of Saint Demetrios in Astoria, the biggest Greek school in America and the only High School worldwide outside Greece, has celebrated its 92nd anniversary from its founding. The First Bishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Epiphany of Kiev and All Ukraine, was this year’s recipient of the Athenagoras Human Rights Award. An important and vigorous Greek of the Diaspora is currently hosted on Hellenic DNA. Nikolaos Pagonis had been for four consecutive terms an elected president of the Greek community of Greater Montreal. He talks to our camera about Greece, being an unfulfilled love, about his parents, about the Greek Diaspora in Montreal, about the daily trilingual elementary and junior high school, which is the flagship of the community, but also about his first job in Canada as a dish-washer, which he considers it to be his get-go for his later career. From 1984 to present time, he runs an accounting company in the beautiful city of Canada. We met him at the Parliament of the community in Montreal, where 27 elected expatriates convene about the future of Hellenism. Greece for me is an idea, Greece for me is something that exists for more than 4,000 years and despite all the hardships it went through it continues to rise high. I came to Montreal in 1969, when things were not so good for Greece, there was dictatorship. I left behind my parents and two sisters. My father was from Naxos and my mother from Constantinople and unfortunately one sister only survives this small family. I had no family here, just a classmate of mine. Since I had no support that other people had here, I was forced then to start washing dishes. It is and experience that I consider it as “medal” so to speak, I continued my studies here. From 1984 to the present I run an accounting company. The Greeks here in Montreal cannot have the financial surface that other Greeks have in the United States. There are lots of rich people living here, many of whom have performed miracles, that doesn’t mean though that they have great means to go invest in Greece. But we can invest in smaller financial schemata. Let’s not forget that the Greeks who came here in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s have built a Greece. Whatever money they made here, it was all sent to Greece. We help Greece not necessarily with money or investments, we help Greece because we keep it here where we live. Greece is an idea and an idea is not buildings or roads or factories, nothing of these. They are definitely necessary because if there is no financial stability in a place, nothing can work out well in a country. But we maintain here another type of Greece. A tiny small Greece with the same enthusiasm and with the same emotional pain. We are therefore here in the Conference room of the Administrative Committee, as you can see it is like a little Parliament, we gave it a name, “the Parliament”of the Greek Community of Greater Montreal and to brag a little bit about it, it is the biggest Greek community not by population, but in plethora of activities and events compared to other communities in the Greek Diaspora. I’ll give an estimate of some figures, it has an annual budget of 18 million dollars. The community employes more than 298 people. There are six proprietary churches which are of course under the spiritual guidance of the Archdiocese of Canada, but the most impressive of all is, that it has a daily school with over 1320 to 1350 students. The most remarkable of all is that the school is trilingual, the students are taught in French which is the official language in Quebec and of course English and Greek. There classes all the way from Pre-K to the 8th grade Junior High School. Most discussions and decisions are taken in this small “Parliament.” The Administrative Committee consists of 27 people with monthly meetings on school matters, church matters and the representation of Hellenism and we need not to forget this because it is extremely important, because the Greek Community here in Montreal is hugely appreciated. There are representatives of the Greek community everywhere, who are wonderful and fantastic. I would like to say from the bottom of my heart about Hellenic DNA, which left an impression on me, that it is a great means of communication to travel worldwide because Hellenism is ecumenical, it does not belong to a country to a place. I wish therefore that DNA not just travels, but also to become the trip’s captain in calm seas and have great success. Greece, with the GNTO North America as its ambassador, has always been at the major international shows and greatest annual tourism events and conventions in America and Canada associated with tourism. On Hellenic DNA’s camera speak the Consul General of Greece, the co-exhibitors of GNTO, representatives of Crete who traveled from Greece to Montreal as well as the Deputy Director of GNTO North America, Maria Kritharioti, who has referred to the Canadian travelers’ interest for alternative and thematic forms of tourism, and the promotion of Greece as a destination of unique, positive and authentic tourism experiences throughout the year. We are thus in Montreal at the International Tourism and Travel Show, that is taking place annually this time of the year with the participation of GNTO the last 6 years, as far as I know. Montreal is a great market in regards to the tourism in Greece, there has been recorded a great increase in inbound traveler flow which proves of course the systematic work done on this field. I am glad to have this opportunity to be here for a second time in a row, I was present last year as well, and I would like to thank through your channel the GNTO New York office and I personally thank Mrs. Kritharioti, the Director in charge, for her excellent cooperation with the General Consul of Greece for the organization of the booth and the promotion of Greek tourism in Montreal and in the Quebec area. I most definitely would like to welcome Hellenic DNA that took the initiative to be here and cover the show. Thank you. It is the first time that the region of Crete participates in this tourist exhibition, at the Montreal show. We are very impressed from the very first day, we have received many questions and a lot of interest from the people here and we did not really expect that due to the long distance from here to there and the airfare is costly, yet the people here show a great interest and that makes us think of repeating our presence here in order for Crete to be established as a preferred destination to the Canadian travelers and increase the inbound traveler flow to our island. We are happy that Hellenic DNA is here with us and as I have noticed it supports the Greek expatriates and connects them both to each other and to the motherland. Crete is a very attractive destination, it is the largest island in Greece offering almost everything. Greece can become a tourist destination 365 days a year. We offer everything, beautiful seas, sunlight, mountains etc. It seems there is quite a lot of interest for Greece and the reason we are here is because we had many groups visiting from Calgary. Our main office is in Chania, Crete but we als have many branches in Athens, Kythera, Cephalonia, Ithaca Syvota in Thesprotia, Kos, Samos, Mytilini, and two other branches in Cyprus. First of all, we would like to thank Hellenic DNA for being here with us today, at the 31st International Tourism and Travel Show. We are here for the 6th year in a row and at our booth we host the region of Crete. The Canadian market is very important for Greece and not only because it is a population that has high expenditures daily per capita in Greece with many overnight stays, we have a huge increase in rates every year. It is a nation that respects the environment, wherever they travel nature is their concern, and adventure tourism. They are very interested in mainland Greece and we are also trying to promote it and we are expanding our tourist season. They travel both in the Fall and Spring. We are trying to promote even winter tourism. The temperatures in Canada are very low so they like to travel to warmer climates. We, as a the Greek National Tourism Organization and Ministry of Tourism aim of course at sustainability. We are naturally interested in keeping the number of inbound travelers to Greece in record time, as they were in previous years, but what we are very interested is the infrastructures that will be created and everything that will be done in the coming years with the aim of protecting the environment so that everyone has the best of experiences by visiting us and the local communities are pleased as well. The philanthropist, benefactor of Hellenism, a man with a rare character, Nikos Gavalas, from Amorgos, was honored by the Association of Amorgos and the Islands of Donoussa, Shoinoussa, Iraklia and Koufonissia proclaiming him the Honorary President of the Association. The president of the Association, Nikitas Theologitis, whom we have hosted in one of our previous episodes of Hellenic DNA, has coordinated the successful event and naturally spoke with the warmest words about Mr Gavalas, whom he sees as a father. A huge thank you to the Greek community and especially to you. As a newly elected president of the Amorgos Foundation NY, I had the great honor and joy to honor this year Mr. Nikos Gavalas, a man who has given his soul to charity. He is a man who works daily for offering to others. I have not seen anything like that before in my life. We know Mr. Gavalas for at least 20 years and I see him daily trying to find a way to help someone. He never says “no” to anyone. He never says “I can’t” Greece is my country, Amorgos is my home. It is something special. I was born and raised there until I was 16 years old. At the age of 17, I left Amorgos but it is like I never left Amorgos one day. My mind is always there and whenever I can I like to go there. But I call there every morning to find out what’s going on there. He has done lots of things for our island, Amorgos. He has done a tremendous job, especially at Saint Paraskevi, which was a tiny secluded church. He had rooms built, the walls of the church were fixed, and kitchens added. Let’s not forget that every year, on the feast day of Saint Paraskevi, some 3,500 people can be fed there. This the festival of Amorgos. And all of this are due to Mr. Nikos Gavalas. I came to America on September 14, 1973. The first years were in misery and poverty. If I had the tickets back then I would leave and go back. But then I met Mr. Santo, a man you have met tonight. At first, my brother Giannis Gavalas helped me out. Then I met Sam and I was making more money. He had also given me an apartment to stay. In a few years, he made me a partner in his hotels and my life started from there. My main job was complicated, I was cleaning the hotel’s corridors, fixing the beds and such. Then I began making cement tiles and all kinds of repairs. With time, I became a hotel manager and things have changed a lot since then, we are at a different level now. I wish to all of Greece that they are united, to preserve our religion, our culture, to try the best possible and never to be disappointed. This is my message here, tonight, and I believe in it because I have been through a lot and I wish they try to reach the life level of my own. To all of Greece. I also wish the new council of the Amorgos Foundation elected today all the best. For me it is a double honor and double joy to become the president of the Amorgos Foundation NY and it was my first presentation of award as the Foundation’s president and we thank him very much for everything he has done. We will never stop appreciating him for what he has offered to the Greek community, the Amorgos Foundation and our island as well. Family is the basis of life. Without the church we will not be anything because the church always helps. We met many people and the church must always exist in our lives, the church helps the whole world. The message here is to speak Greek at the church, the school and at home. I wish to Hellenic DNA to continue with your program and as I know it is likable and wish you the best. We declare Mr. Gavalas as the Honorary President of our Association. The cross has the image of Saint Paraskevi on it. The 1st Conference of Greek Education in the United States, organized by the Greek Archdiocese of America, took place in Saint Nicholas of Flushing, NY. The Archbishop of America gave an extremely important promise that “from now on, no school will close but only new ones will be opened.” And he clarified that “we must maintain our identity, safeguard our culture, because we are not the bearers of just any culture but a culture of past and great, upon which the values of the western world were built.” Most of the speakers noted above all that the maintenance of the Greek language in Diaspora is a matter of utmost national importance and that we must all concern about the course of the Greek Education and language. More than 78 people coming from various states from all over America were present at the conference. I am very happy because I see a massive response to the call of the Holy Archdiocese of America to examine a topic that has been neglected and which is vital for our survival both as Greeks and Orthodox in the United States. Because it has to do with our identity as being Greeks and Orthodox. It is not just about a language, our language, the Greek language, it’s about our culture as well and our identity as Greeks and Orthodox. The initiative taken by His Eminence is a breath, it is Spring for us again. It’s a vision, his vision that is shared with us and we are happy and ready to respond accordingly. I came from California in order to support this very important work that our new Archbishop is trying to do. His speech was inspiring to me personally, and especially when he said that Liturgy has to be done in Greek. This is my big complaint for many years now in my church. No such conference has taken place the last 25 years. I am very content with our new Archbishop, who indeed brings hope. We wish him to keep up the vitality, the energy and the love especially towards the Greek-Orthodox community and more specifically for our language, our Greek-Orthodox traditions and our civilization. For me, the Greek language is an essential ingredient of the Greek culture, and a necessary and integral ingredient of the identity of a Greek Orthodox. We have a very strong Archbishop who supports us and this is very important when we know that church supports us and when the community and the Diaspora support us in this task. Today, we have attended a conference for a very important purpose with people present and most of all people who have in fact shown their interest for the Greek language and education most of them being educators, who have come from many different states of the Archdiocese of America. We can preserve our language, our identity, our culture and our ecclesiastical identity without much difficulty. We are a strong culture, we are a strong people. There are many people out there who love and care about the Greek language, our culture and our identity and they are ready to work and support all effort in order to achieve our purpose: every church to have its own school. And from now on no school should close but we need to open new schools. Faithful people want the Greek education, the Greek language. But they simply felt until now that there was no interest in this matter and it was not considered to be of no immediate priority. I would like to change this notion. I would like to show that there is interest and this interest is real and our abilities for the dreams that we have in mind are real abilities and they are not just a cloudy imagination of a romantic Archbishop. This year, the 13th New York Greek Film Festival was held with great success. This year’s Festival program, with an international character, surpasses 50 films, a record-breaking figure in the institute’s history. The festival had the honor of presenting, in collaboration with prominent Greek archaeologists, a digital exhibition documenting the recording of the grand history of the most famous Greek of all time, Alexander the Great. The Festival promises to be spectacular with exciting events that we look forward to see. Your Excellency, Mr. Secretary General of Expatriate Hellenism Gianni Hrysoulaki, your Excellency Mr. General Consul, Mr. President of the Alexandrion Foundation Nawaf Salameh, dear friends that you are here today. I only want to say a few words and many many thanks. This year the New York Film Festival hosts 50 movies for the first time in its history and it is dedicated to Alexander the Great. I would like to first give a round welcome to all of you. Thank you for joining us this evening for the opening night and of course members of the Alexandrion Foundation, with their President Nawaf Salameh, the grand benefactor for this evening and you have the option of seeing the exhibition tonight or heading to the Tinker room for the reception, after our film show. I ‘d like to bring up now our grand benefactor, the President of the Alexandrion Foundation, Mr. Nawaf Salameh. I am very glad that the Alexandrion Foundation and the Alexandrion Group are supporting the Greek film makers and that are in the Greek Film Festival in New York. When Alexander was only 20 years old after the assassination of his father he was proclaimed King of the Macedonia and before the statue of vila, he persuades everyone to follow him to the battle field. I came from Greece and it is like I never left Greece. I am very happy for everything that goes on for the exhibition, for Alexander the Great who would say “yes” and everyone was saying “no”. We are like that as a group, we always go against the wind. A country without a culture has a big problem, but Greece has a culture that shares it with the whole world for the last 2,500 years and it’s great. I was born in Syria and very proud about but sad for what is going in Syria now. I grew up in Romania but I became a businessman in Greece. I had my university degree certified as a Physician. My three sons were born in Greece and have Greek nationality. We came to America to invest in production and to have the 4th distillery in America and the biggest in New York. As for tourism, we would like to have tourists travel from America to Europe. There is a project Greece-Romania, Greece is known for its seas and Romania for its mountains. Alexandrion Foundation is always behind culture and this year, here in New York, with this exhibition of Alexander the Great we feel that we brought Alexandrion to its roots. We are building the biggest distillery in America, in New York and we aim to have the best drinks not only for the American market but for all the markets worldwide. Our products can be found in more than 50 countries and we aim to reach 100 countries very soon. This year, we decided to invest in tourism. We began in 2018 by buying hotel units in Romania. We see that there is great perspective and we believe In this venture of the Group. There is Greece outside Greece and here in New York is the basis for a very strong Diaspora. We are here to work together with the community. We have Greek roots and support the Greek traditions along with the community here. The community of Saint Demetrios of Astoria in NY has celebrated the 92nd anniversary of its founding with a succesful event held at the Cultural Center of Petros Patridis. The school of Saint Demetrios of Astoria is the biggest Greek school in America, and the only High School worldwide outside Greece. The heart of Hellenism beats in this school, the Greek language is preserved intact and our culture, history and Greek traditions are passed down from generation to generation. We celebrate the anniversary 62 years of school and 40 of High School of the one and only school in the United States of America. We celebrate it here in this school, in this institution of great history and history my dear friends is written not in words but in actions. Our motto was always that we believe and that’s the reason we build. We have succeeded. I see people in this room with decades of service in this community. Take a look from where you started, the things you have achieved with your effort. Tell our students the stories from the years past so they can comprehend that everything can be achieved with hard labor. Our School offers education for the future of our students, but above all taughts culture, discipline and ethos, values of our heritage, the Greek language, religion, family and Greek culture. Our trip was not easy at all. But we made it both through bad and through good times. All of you that attend and participate throughout the years, we do thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We are lucky, we are indeed very lucky because we have here with us tonight and welcome our new Archbishop, His Eminence Elpidoforos of America. Mr. Andriotis, please come here next to me. You have made him the Honorary President of the School Board, which School Board? He is an Honorary President and now I declare him amongst all of you as the Honorary President of the Community. He is worthy of it and mind that he will make all of your lives even more difficult. The First Bishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine Epiphany, was this year’s recipient of the Athenagoras Award for Human Rights that was awarded to him by the Order of St. Andrew’s Archons at their annual dinner at the Hilton Midtown Hotel in Manhattan, New York. The Metropolitan of Kiev spoke in his native language, in Ukrainian, while there was an English translation of its speech available in every table. Throughout the night and right before Archbishop Elpidoforos’s of America speech, there was a video played on the autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine and a message form the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. We congratulate his Beautitude Metropolitan Epiphany for this award this evening and we bless and affirm the noble Ukrainian people. In their own, long journey of the new ecclesiastical reality freedom, that it is founded in truth rather than choice, peace rather than conflict and unconditional and infinite love. The autocephaly as yet to be accepted by the majority of local churches but these delays have ever be a thing of yesterday. We experience a first local orthodox church that recognized after the Ecumenical Patriarchy, the autocephaly of the church of Ukraine or the church of Greece. This is the end of today’s episode. Ladies and gentlemen, we thank you for being here with us on the 9th consecutive episode of Greek Diaspora. We continue from our new studio in New York, with lots of accurate stories. Keep in mind that all topics can be viewed separately on our website www.hellenicdna.com, as well as on the social media of Hellenic DNA. In addition to our regular monthly episodes, you have the ability to keep up-to-date with current issues on our Facebook page. We are renewing our appointment for the next episode. Take care.