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Category Archives: History

Cretans Working Together

By | History | One Comment

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Cretans Supporting Communities at Home!


Even though we are far away from our country, our hearts are close to our fellow friends and families. We see and hear through the news, how the economic crisis in Greece has impacted people’s ability to properly support themselves and care for their families.

Now our fellow Cretans are faced with natural weather phenomena; tsunami like ocean conditions, heavy rains, flooding and snow.  We hear that many churches in Crete are serving the needy in numbers not seen before.

Cretans have a proud history that demonstrates how we accomplish great things when we stand together side by side.  The Holocaust of Arkadi (1866), Enosis of Crete (1913) and the Battle of Crete (1941) highlight the resilience, bravery and will of the Cretans to overcome and persevere.

This time, we may be spread around the world but our resolve is the same.  We want to support our brothers and sisters when they have a need.

As you know the MAHI (Mothers Assisting Humanitarian Initiatives) Society is collecting new and used donations; clothing, toys, and basic household necessities for a container shipping at the end of January. The container is going to Greece and one of the inner containers is destined for Crete to alleviate the hardship caused by these recent events. Especially hit hard is Iraklion and Rethymnon but the donations will be distributed across Crete. The MAHI Society is also looking for cash donations to be used to purchase goods directly.

At the most recent meeting the Executive, on behalf of the members, voted to make a financial contribution to the MAHI Society.   The Association challenges our members to make a point over the next two weeks to donate funds and goods to the MAHI Society, if you have not already.  Click on this link to see their website and this one to get to their facebook.

Looking at the longer term, we here in Canada are fortunate to have a relatively stable standard of living.  On a personal level and as an association this may be an appropriate time to consider how we can make philanthropy a higher priority. Can we commit a certain amount of our household budgets and set aside funds from events to donate regularly to our local community here and in Crete?

There are many trusted channels to facilitate donations such as the MAHI Society, your local Philoptochos or church as well as your home village or towns’ church.  When funds are sent to Crete to organizations to purchase goods locally, it helps stimulate their businesses which in turn helps businesses succeed and hire employees which in turn helps mothers and fathers support healthy families.

As members of the global Cretan diaspora, we also challenge our fellow Cretan Associations located around the world to consider how the flow of support to Crete can be increased at this time. Let’s carry on the conversation and share information. What organizations are successfully delivering help to the needy in Crete and what is the optimum way to inject more goods and funds to support the Cretan communities that our hearts hold dear?

Iraklis (Herc) Kallergis, President on behalf of the Board

#cretansbcgrowingcommunity #cretansleadingforcenturies

Παρόλο που είμαστε μακριά απο την Κρήτη, ο νούς μας δεν σταματά ποτέ να είναι κοντά στους συγγενείς και τους φίλους . Ενημερωνόμαστε για την Ελλάδα σε καθημερινή βάση και έχουμε πλήρη γνώση για πως η τρέχουσα δυσμενής οικονομική κατάσταση της χώρας έχει αντίκτυπο στο βιώτικό επίπεδο των ανθρώπων.

Πρόσφατα η Κρήτη ήρθε αντιμέτωπη με ακραία καιρικά φαινόμενα όπως κατακλυσμούς, θυελλώδης ανέμους και χιόνια με αποτέλεσμα την καταστροφή οικιών και καλλιεργιών. Εμείς ως Σύλλογος Κρητών Βανκούβερ είμαστε πρόθυμοι να προσφέρουμε κάθε δυνατή βοήθεια στους πληγέντες και τις οικογένεις τους.

Ο Μη Κερδοσκοπικός Οργανισμός MAXH δέχεται δωρεές καινούργιων και μεταχειρισμένων ρούχων, παιχνιδιών κ.α. τα οποία θα σταλούν στην Ελλάδα στο τέλος του Ιανουαρίου 2015 με τη χρήση container. Μέρος των αντικειμένων προορίζεται για την Κρήτη, με το μεγαλύτερο μερίδιο αυτών να καταλήγει στις περιοχές που επλήγησαν περισσότερο απο τα πρόφατα φαιινόμενα το Ηράκλειο και το Ρέθυμνο. Σε καμία των περιπτώσεων δεν αποκλειόνται τελείως οι υπόλοιπες περιχές του νησιού απο την κατανομή των αγαθών. Εκτώς απο δωρεές αγαθών, ο ΜΚΟ MAXH δέχεται και δωρεές χρηματικών ποσών για την απευθείας αγορά αγαθών, κάλυψη μεταφορικών εξόδων κ.α.

Στην τελευταιά συνεδρίαση του, το συμβούλιο του συλλόγου μας αποφάσισε να συνεισφέρει οικονομικά στον  MAXH και παράλληλα ζητάμε απο τα μέλη μας στο διάστημα των 2 επόμενων εβδομάδων να λάβουν μέρος σε αυτή την προσπάθεια δωρίζοντας είτε αγαθά είτε κάποιο χρηματικό ποσό στον MAXH.

Αναγνωρίζοντας το γεγονός ότι έχουμε ένα ικανοποιητικό βιοτικό επίπεδο και το πλεονέκτιμα να ζούμε σε ένα σχετικά σταθερά κοινωνικά και οικομικά περιβάλλον θα πρέπει να αυξήσουμε την φιλανθρωπική μας δράση . Η αύξηση αυτή μπορεί να γίνει είτε ατομίκα, δωρίζοντας μερίδιο απο το υστέρημα μας είτε συλλογικά δωρίζοντας μέρος των κερδών απο τις διάφορες εκδηλώσεις, Παράλληλα καλούμε τους συλλόγους Κρητών ανα τον κόσμο να προβούν σε αντίστοιχες κινήσεις,  δείχνοντας για ακόμα μια φορά οτι όσο μακριά και αν είμαστε απο την Κρήτη και την Ελλάδα, η καρδίας μας δεν παύει να φλέγεται και να πονά για τον τόπο μας.

#cretansleadingforcenturies #cretansbcgrowingcommunity

One Storm, One Night, One Association

By | History | 2 Comments

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Dionisia Gianacopoulos story as told to her daughter Oree

George Gianacopoulos came to Canada in 1954. George’s mother, Eleni Stylianaki was from Atsipopoulo, Rethymnon, Crete. Like so many other Greeks after the war, he came in search of work, leaving behind a pregnant young wife. On May 12, 1955, his wife Dionisia and infant daughter, Helene arrived in Winnipeg to join him. Dionisia and her daughter were both born in Halepa, Hania, where Dionisia also grew up.


The mild, temperate weather of her Cretan island home had not prepared Dionisia for the 39 degrees below zero temperatures in Winnipeg, so on Dec 19, 1955 she flew to California to spend Christmas with her father, brother and sister in San Francisco. The weather was terrible and a thick fog forced the plane to unexpectedly land in Vancouver.

Dionisia was escorted off the plane and into a holding area at the airport. She spoke no English and had no idea what was happening. She sat there in the airport with her baby for more than 7 hours, confused, frightened and crying. She had no idea that officials at the airport were trying to locate a translator for her but finally, to her great relief, at 5 pm, a Greek taxi driver, Mr. Kouman, arrived and explained the situation. They had landed in Vancouver due to bad weather and the airline was putting the passengers up in the Georgia Hotel over night. He explained that she would get a wake up call at 4:30 am and that she was to go to the lobby to be picked up and taken back to the airport.

Her first impression of Vancouver was on the taxi drive from YVR to the Georgia Hotel. As she stared out the windows of the taxi, she marveled as she compared the mild and pleasant weather in Vancouver to the biting cold and snow in Winnipeg. Although there was briskness in the air, the sun was shining and everything was clean and green.

In April 1956, after an extended stay in sunny, warm California, Dionisia returned to a freezing, snow spotted Winnipeg and announced to her husband that there was no way she was going to stay there in that cold. Within a few weeks, they had packed up and on July 8, 1956, their train pulled into the CPR station in Vancouver.

A few days later the young family strolled along Pacific St. when Dionisia first caught a glimpse of the ocean and was reminded of her home in Chania. A fortuitous twist of fate and foggy weather may have brought Dionisia to Vancouver but it was with very clear resolve that she chose to make this waterfront city her new home. As she later learned, she and her young daughter were the first two Cretan women to live in Vancouver.

In the next ten years, a few dozen more Cretans arrived in Vancouver. In the spring of 1966, Dionisia again flew to California to visit her sister. At that time, the Cretan Association of San Francisco was having a dance which they all attended. Dionisia so enjoyed the warmth and camaraderie with her island patriots. She saw the benefits of an organization which would unify the Cretans of BC while creating an extended Cretan family circle to celebrate their unique heritage. She knew immediately that she must recreate this amazing experience in Vancouver. She made inquiries and was provided with instructions on getting started.

When she returned to Vancouver, she assembled the 12 necessary founding members and shared her idea of forming a Cretan Association. One evening, along with Father Ananiathes, who’s wife was Cretan, they assembled at the church hall on 7th and Vine St. and created the first constitution. The application was filed in Victoria under the Societies Act and on Nov. 5, 1966, the Cretans Association of BC was formed. The founding members were: Kostas Bitsakis, George & Dionisia Gianacopoulos, John Katotakis, Nikos Katsamakis, Stamatis and Katina Kouromichelakis, Manolis & Marika Proestakis, John Atsalakis, Antonis Mavrakis and Theofanis and Mary Theodosakis.

The 1st president elect was Stamatis Kouromichelakis and within the first year, the association had 60 members. Over the next few years, almost all the founding members would serve as president. A handful of Cretans had formed the 1st Greek association in BC and to celebrate, they held a dance at the church hall at 7th & Vine St. They invited all the Greeks of Vancouver to share in the festivities and proudly made their announcement. The Cretans Association organized many events including dances and picnics and in 1967, they chartered a plane to Athens. The flight was full of Vancouver Greeks, most returning for the first time to the homeland.

In the coming years, the Messinian’s also formed an association which was soon followed by all the other Greek regional organizations in Vancouver.

Today the Cretan Association of BC continues to build on the sturdy foundation laid by its founders. With new generations at the helm, we proudly celebrate the traditions, customs and family values brought over by the handful of islanders who had the foresight to plant Cretan roots in Vancouver.