June 23rd, 2024

Midsummer Estonian Festival celebrates 100 years since country’s first independence

By Medicine Hat News on June 21, 2018.

Medicine Hat News

The Midsummer Estonian Festival — Jaanipaev 2018 — and 100th anniversary of Estonia’s first independence will be held Saturday near Stettler.

The Alberta Estonian Heritage Society will be gathering people from all over Alberta and beyond at the “Jaanipaev” celebration (St. John’s Day celebration). All people with roots in both Alberta and Estonia are invited to the celebration.

Theevent is a centenary celebration of the first independence of Estonia. In 1918, after the First World War, Estonia gainedits firstindependence, which lasted until the Second World War. Independence was regained in 1991, with the fall of the Iron Curtain. No blood was lost during that most recent independence push. Instead, the struggle was dubbed the “Singing Revolution.”

There is a Medicine Hat connection to the early Estonian settlers in Alberta and Saskatchewan. If you have been to the Esplanade recently and viewed the Medicine Hat Archives display of weather incidents, you will have seen Mr. Sillak and his family in a boat outside their houseduring a floodin the River Flats in Medicine Hat. Rev. Sillak was an Estonian whoin the late 1800swent to university in the U.S.to become a Lutheran pastor. He translated the American Lutheran liturgy into Estonian and received a masters degree for his efforts.

He was posted in northern U.S.A. and southern Canada for ministry among Estonians, Latvians, and Finns.He could speak five languages. His home and family were in Medicine Hat and he travelled to all the locations where Estonians and Latvians and Finns settled.

He would stay a few days at a local farmhouse to conduct the baptisms, confirmations, marriages and funerals in the community. Much of his travel was on horseback. Sometimes he tookthe train for part of the distance. In the first decade of the 1900s there were a number of young adult Estonians living in Medicine Hat. They dispersed as they found work or homesteads “away.”Sillak Crescent in South Ridge is named for him.

Anyone with Estonian roots who wishes to attend Saturday may register at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/midsummer-estonian-festival-jaanipaev-2018-100th-anniversary-of-estonias-independence-tickets-44466249750

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