TORONTO—At the annual Hayastan Fund banquet here on June 26, $130,000 was raised for the re-construction of the Education and Cultural Center of Shoushi and an anonymous donor pledged $300,000 for a the renovation of a hospital and an old-age home in Yerevan.
Famous Canadian-Armenian director, Atom Egoyan was the keynote speaker, at the annual fund raising banquet, which was held at the newly renovated halls of Armenian Community Centre. This year’s banquet was dedicated to the 20th Anniversary of the Independence of Armenia and Artsakh.
The main goal of the evening was to raise funds toward the re-construction of the Education and Cultural Centre of Shushi.
Mistress of Ceremonies, Tenny Nigoghossian, kicked off the program in front of a capacity audience of more than 400. Nigoghossian stated that “We must acknowledge the enormous significance and the role that the arts and culture play in re-establishing a community. We proved we could do it here. Let’s prove we can do it in Shushi.”
Arman Akopian, Armenia’s Charge d’Affaires in Canada, who was in Toronto, as his last visit in his official capacity, congratulated the audience on the occasion of the anniversary and remarked that both Armenia and Artsakh are free and independent, now for a full generation. He commended the Armenia Fund for playing a vital role during this initial period of 20 years of nation building.
During dinner, a comprehensive video of all the construction activities of the Fund, in 2010, was shown.
Then the 20th Anniversary cake, with 20 candles, was lit by the benefactors of the Fund who were present.
After a brief cultural program with performances by young Toronto artists, Migirdic Migirdicyan, the chair of the Toronto Chapter, started his presentation by thanking all the donors as well as the supporters of the Fund who have been providing in-kind services reducing the overall expenses, all throughout the year. He later gave a report of his recent visit to Artsakh and Armenia, where he visited both the current project site as well as the previous schools built by Toronto.
He said the re-construction of the Education and Cultural Centre of Shushi is 60 percent complete and the building is slated to open by the spring of 2012.
Migirdicyan also stated that both in Artsakh and Armenia the number newborns was on the rise, “so we had no choice but continue building educational facilities for our future generations in our homeland.”
He also stated that “everything we do tangible for our brothers and sisters over there makes them more confident that they are not alone in their struggle.”
Migirdicyan introduced Egoyan as “a person who is not only a film and stage director but a fine intellectual in the true sense of the word.”
Egoyan took the podium and gave a very eloquent narrative of the early years of the Karabakh Movement, starting in February of 1988, when the whole world was watching the Glasnost and the Perestroika and Karabakh as one if its, if not the first, test.
He continued by presenting several personal experiences of the early years of the independence or just before it. He stated “All of us witnessed the history, our own, in our life time and we have to do everything possible to continue the independence, that our ancestors could only dream of.”
Egoyan concluded his speech by re-emphasizing the importance of giving to Armenia Fund, who has been building wonderfully all throughout these years in Armenia and Artsakh.
While the audience was applauding, as a token of appreciation, Egoyan was presented with three gifts. The first was a silver coin minted by the Central Bank of Armenia, in 1994, as its very first series of coins on the occasion of the 74th Anniversary of Sardarabad. The fact that Egoyan is a cultural ambassador of Armenian, the second gift was an Ambassador brand watch, again Made in Armenia, donated by Armenian Watch International(AWI). Finally, the guest speaker was asked to exchange the tie that he was wearing with a tricolor bow-tie, which was from the same series worn by the school children of two of the schools.
While the pledges were pouring in, Atom Egoyan’s tie was auctioned off which fetched a handy $1,000.