Our Community Lost a True Activist in Mina Shirvanian

Mina and Hacob cut the ribbon of the Shirvanian Youth Center in Gyumri July 2016
Mina and Hacob cut the ribbon of the Shirvanian Youth Center in Gyumri July 2016

Mina and Hacob cut the ribbon of the Shirvanian Youth Center in Gyumri July 2016

BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN

When I received the news of Mina Shirvanian’s passing on Friday night I was saddened not only for her beloved family but also for the huge loss our community suffered because Mina was a true activist, who through her commitment, dedication and drive advanced the Armenian Cause and elevated the community organizations that worked tirelessly in its pursuit.

I remember meeting Mina in 1991, weeks after I moved from Boston to Los Angeles to work at the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region. It was a reception to welcome renowned human rights activist Yelena Bonner to L.A. who was to be honored by the ANCA-WR for her advocacy on Armenia and Karabakh.

The opulent surroundings of the evening were no distraction for Mina, who spoke that evening with pride and conviction about the struggle our people were facing in Artsakh and thanked the guest of honor, Yelena Bonner, for her advocacy and her work. She did so, in what I would come to realize was Mina’s unique way of addressing the most pressing of issues—with poise, grace and elegance that did not mask the fighting spirit that guided her in all her endeavors. I could tell that Mina was especially proud that night because the person who had espoused our cause for justice was a woman.

As I grew to know Mina and her husband, Hacob, my respect for their unwavering devotion and their caring approach to all things Armenian only was heightened as their humility and aplomb became life lessons that I will always carry with me.

Mina did not let an illness get in the way of her efforts to advance our nation. In July of 2016, she and Hacob traveled to Armenia to be present at the opening of a youth center in Gyumri named after the Shirvanians because Mina and Hacob were the glue that made this home for young Gyumri residents possible. It was not just a building that bore their name. For Mina, it was a guarantee that our nation would thrive through its youth, which had significant importance for her and her husband. After all she was a trailblazer. She was the co-founder of the AYF Soghomon Tehlirian Junior chapter in Los Angeles.

Her involvement in many organizations—the ACF, ANCA, ARS, AEF, Ferrahian School, Glendale Adventist, to name a few—was a reflection of her firm belief that by enabling those who work for the betterment of our community, we are simply strengthening our homeland and our nation.

With her passing on Friday, our community has lost a true activist, whose work and dedication can only serve as valuable examples for us who will continue her vision and for future generations.

On behalf of all of us at Asbarez, we offer our most heartfelt condolences to the Shirvanian family. May she rest in peace.

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4 Comments

  1. Peter M. said:

    Younger generations often look to the generation before them and single-out certain people…as great people. They also wonder, how can any of us live up to this example. In Mina’s case, it’s true. She did ALL those things. She WAS that kind of person. And, it is likely none of us will come close to achieving what she achieved. Not even close.

    I met Mina about the same time Ara Khachatourian did. In my case, 1990. What Ara has written here is a true reflection of Mina.

  2. Hrant Apovian said:

    Mrs. Mina was a true fighter.
    She was delicate yet resolute.
    May her memory be an inspiration.
    A great loss for our community.
    She will be missed.

  3. Mary Kanian said:

    Dear Ara,
    Your remembrance of Mina was so spot-on….she was everywhere for everyone…welcoming, organizing, advising encouraging….she mothered an entire community with her love, care & concern….along with a group of “other mothers” who have nourished an entire people with their activism. I too remember Yelena Bonner’s visit…what a stellar evening !! She & Hagop changed LIVES in Armenia & touched all with their generosity of spirit. Their has been a life of DOING & GIVING…what a prime example they have been to the rest of us.

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