By Robin Della Corte
To celebrate Greece’s independence, the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal (HCGM) prepared a series of events in both Laval and Montreal that ended with a successful parade attended by more than 50,000 people.
Before the parade, other events took place on both Friday and Saturday.
A March 22 official dinner at the Hellenic Community Centre on Wilderton Avenue was followed the next day by a wreath-laying ceremony at the Laval cenotaph at Place du Souvenir.
“For us expats, the celebration of March 25 has a double meaning,” HCGM president Nicholas Pagonis said in a statement. “On one hand, it pays homage to the unparalleled heroes of 1821 and, on the other, we affirm our commitment to Greek ideals, while reflecting the commitment that we have made to perpetuate our religion as well as the culture of the country in which we live.”
The parade this year took place on Sunday, March 24 and headed down Jean-Talon from the corner of Hutchison until L’Acadie Blvd. Montreal and its Greek community has celebrated the parade more than 40 times, regardless of weather conditions.
Both Greeks and non-Greeks attended this year’s event. Joining Pagonis and parade grand marshal Jerry Sklavounos were special guests, including Metropolitan Sotirios, the head of Canada’s Greek Orthodox Church, federal Liberal party leadership candidate Justin Trudeau and Montreal city councillor for Park Extension Mary Deros.
HCGM spokesman Fotis Komborozos stated that it helped that schools participated as well in the parade.
Sklavounos, Dorion riding’s elected representative in the Quebec legislature, waved flags attired in a traditional Greek uniform called a “fustanella” which men wore to celebrate Greek’s independence on March 25, 1821.
Lemonia Strapatsa of the Hellenic Community of Montreal confirmed that the parade was very successful.
“It was great to see Greek members support their community, their roots and the roots of their forefathers,” Strapatsa said.
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