The 1st Canadian Convention of Armenian Students took place on March 8 at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Kingston, Ontario. The convention was organized by Armen Karo Student Association, who had invited eleven Armenian Student Associations based throughout the provinces of Quebec and Ontario. Concordia, McGill, University de Montreal and Cegep ASAs participated from Quebec, and Waterloo, York, McMaster, Ryerson, University of Toronto, University of Toronto-Scarborough, Carleton and Ottawa ASAs participated from Ontario.
The convention was introduced by Armen Karo President, Kevork Kazanjian. He established that Canadian Armenian students encounter several challenges within their universities and their everyday environment, which they can not solve. Nonetheless, when some students do solve these challenges, they would most likely want to communicate with other Canadian Armenian students and share their thoughts and experiences. “This convention will analyze all challenges and find solutions to each, in order to come around these challenges together as one for the continuity of the Armenian heritage and culture. The Armenian Cause should be pursued and brought forward with the help of all Armenia’s, and each Armenian individual has the right and obligation to participate. As students, we have a lot of responsibilities within the ASAs, and today, we will be examining them” said Kevork.
The first half of the convention was comprised to two lectures. The first lecture was presented by Mr. Aris Babikian, Director of the Armenian National Committee of Canada in Ottawa. Mr. Babikian presented the Turkish agenda and the financials spent from Turkish organizations to organize events within universities. Consequently, he demonstrated and stated ways that the ANCA counter acts their agenda. Mr. Babikian also presented facts concerning the Turkish movement in Universities, which the Armenian students were not aware of. Furthermore, he talked about the means and ways that we, as students, can use for our benefit. This lecture was very interesting and practical to the students, since they found out more information on their responsibilities among each university.
The second lecture was given by Hagop DerKhatchadourian, member of the ARF Bureau, concerning the role of the Canadian Armenian student in the Armenian Cause. DerKhatchadourian was a very active university student in the 1970’s. He was President of the Concordia ASA and Founder President of the International Ethnic Association’s Council and Co-President of the Concordia University Student Union (CSU). Hagop DerKhatchadourian, remembering his youth years, said that the torch will be passed on from generation to generation, and currently, his own generation is passing the torch of the Armenian Cause to our generation. He presented the international work done by the ANC and defined very clearly the challenges faced by the Diaspora, Armenia-Chavakh and Armenia-Karabagh relations.
The second half of the convention was the presentation of each ASA, with their goals, accomplishmen’s, challenges, past and future events and work related to the Armenian Genocide Commemoration.
After each presentation, with questions and answers, the ASAs obtained a better understand of the work done within Eastern Canada. A summary of challenges was collected during the presentation: some were only present in a few universities, where others were present in almost all educational institutions. Finally, a few challenges were chosen (those who affected the most and needed the sharing of ideas and thoughts) and were discussed among students as a round table. Suggestions were given, solutions were arisen and ideas were interchanged between ASAs. One main setback was the few numbers of students among the ASAs and the lack of manpower to overcome our responsibilities within universities.
After this productive day, the President of Armen Karo Student Association thanked every student for their presence, their participation and their time. The Convention ended with all the Canadian Armenian students singing the Armenian National Anthom “Mer Hayrenik”.