The first of this year’s events staged by the Split branch office of the CHF was dedicated to Canadian Croatians. It opened at the Baka Gallery Café with a screening of the film Drops of Sea, Drops of Sun, followed by the founding a Friends of Hajduk Society, a visit to the Croatian General Consulate, the Croatian Studies department at Waterloo University and wound up with a constructive meeting at the Canadian Croatian Chamber of Commerce.

The first of this year’s events staged by the Split branch office of the CHF was dedicated to Canadian Croatians. In spite of the record cold that has gripped North America this winter, the Croatians of Toronto did not cancel many activities in which they nurture their identity and links to the homeland.
The Baka Gallery Café, which has always opened its doors to CHF programmes was again available for the January 19th screening of director Matko Petrić’s film Kapi mora, kapi sunca (Drops of Sea, Drops of Sun), a poetic story of the small town of Komiža on the island of Vis, which saw its North American premiere at the San Pedro International Film Festival in California in October of last year. The film’s screenplay was penned by journalist and writer Renato Baretić – he is embarking on the larger undertaking of creating a monograph on artists of Croatian extraction living around the world. He is working on the project with fellow reporter Branimir Pofuk and master photographer Igor Tomljenović. They have already won the support of Croatian President Ivo Josipović and are now looking for sponsors to see the work through.
In collaboration with the FC Hajduk soccer (football) club commissioner for Ontario Ivan Nižić we initiated the founding of a Friends of Hajduk Society. The first to enrol was Mike Tominac, who will be coming to Croatia this year to tour for the second time with the women’s team of the Mississauga Croatia soccer club. The first of the ladies to enrol was Romana Kirigin Račić, who is a related, on her mother’s side, to former Hajduk president Tito Kirigin.
In the works are various activities related to soccer and FC Hajduk, which has many fans in Toronto and its wider environs. It is little wonder that the Hajduk first team squad, the junior squad and the Hajduk veterans’ team have all toured here. Since the 1970s several generations of Hajduk players have continued their career with the Toronto Metros-Croatia Club, inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame. One of the players in the Metros-Croatia line-up was the famed Eusebio.
It was to this great Metros-Croatia team that director Jakov Sedlar has dedicated a film – the premiere showing of which was at the Meadowvale Theatre in Mississauga on January 17th. The film, entitled Toronto Croatia – A Great Croatian Story, is produced by the current club president Joe Pavičić. The programme was moderated by Ivan Grbešić, with welcome speeches delivered by Jakov Sedlar, Croatian Ambassador in Ottawa Veselko Grubišić, and Mississauga’s wonderful Mayor Hazel McCallion.
There was also a panel discussion featuring former Croatia players Dick Howard, Stan Adamson, Robert Iarusci, Bruce Thomas and John Domagoj Šola. Josip Joe Pavičić was the last to speak and wrapped up the event.
The following day saw the Croatian Franciscan Queen of Peace Centre in Norval host this year’s first hunting club dance. There are a number of hunting clubs in Ontario, and this event featured the members of the Mississauga Hunting Club. Club president Zlatko Lemut and parish priest Fra Marko Puljić welcomed the gathered. The evening featured dishes of reindeer meat followed by dancing to the wee hours of the night.
A visit to Canada’s Croatian community is always an opportunity for meetings on joint future events. We visited the Croatian General Consulate to meet with General Consul Ljubinko Matešić and Consul Ivana Crnić.
We also paid a visit to the Croatian Studies department at Waterloo University. We met there with Split native and professor Helena Burić and professor emeritus Vinko Grubišić.
Anton Kikaš recently purchased the CroNet television station, led by reporter Sanja Kusić and cameraman Davor Mamuzić. Their shows can be found on the Internet so that news on Croatian events in the wider Toronto area can be viewed around the world.
Always worthwhile and constructive are meetings at the Canadian Croatian Chamber of Commerce with board members John Marion and John Alpeza. The ideas born there always grow into concrete programmes.
Croatian immigration to Canada has not slowed down. As a result of a lack of jobs in the homeland young people not afraid of rolling up their sleeves continue to seek work in this distant land.
Top international award winning guitarist Mario Tomić is set to leave Split soon and the Croatian community wishes to help him as much as it can. Teacher Ana Ganza is already seeing to it that he not feel alone – everyone remembers those difficult first days far from home in a country that offers a decent standard of living to diligent and determined people.

Text by: Branka Bezić Filipović