The arrival of winter in Bratislava, Slovakia was indicative that both Christmas, and soon after that, New Year would be upon us. In Canada the organizers of the “Slovaks in Canada” project still felt that there were outstanding issues and concerns about the Exhibit that needed direct negotiations with interested parties. A trip to Slovakia from Nov. 10 – 29, 2001 was brought about by the need to view the physical location of the exhibit and finalize the financial issues associated with the Slovaks in Canada Exhibit, scheduled for the summer and fall of 2002 in Slovakia. In addition, the trip was organized as a research project to examine the contents of the archives of the Matica Slovenska museum collection on Slovaks in Canada as well as to attend, along with 400 delegates, the Matica Slovenska “válne zhromaźdenie” in Turčiansky Sväty Martin. This is a major meeting, with elections that is held every three years.
The meetings held with the interested parties, headed by personnel from the Ministry of Culture of Slovak Republic and various museum organizers, allowed us to agree on the date for opening of the Slovaks in Canada Exhibit - July 5, 2002 in Bratislava. The exhibit will be housed in the Slovak National Museum for 2 months. In addition, a final financial number was agreed upon and submitted to the Ministry of Culture SR for final approval. Approval is expected in the new year because the Minister of Culture of SR, Mr. Milan Knažko has continuously supported the concept for this kind of exhibit in Slovakia in 2002.
In addition, the interested cultural entities from Banska Bystrica, headed by the director of Stredoslvenské múzemu Mr. Milan Šoka, are very excited to also present the Slovaks in Canada Exhibit in their city. The exhibit would be housed in various museums and galleries throughout the downtown core during their month of culture that starts on Sept 5, 2002 and last for 1 month. All the costs associated with transportation and realization of the Exhibit in Banska Bystrica will be borne by the participating organizations in that city.
With regards to Archives research, well my examination of the paper and printed matter holdings of MS on Slovaks in Canada resulted in 10 CDs worth of copies of photographs and other valuable documents which will potentially be used in the Exhibit. The overall collection sadly reflected mostly the 50 years of Communist bias and 90% of the MS Canadian collection deals with the Communist activities of Slovaks in Canada, which is way out of sync with what the Slovak Canadian reality actually has been for the last 120 years! Our Exhibit as such will be a valuable presentation of the actual current reality of Slovaks in Canada!
Finally, my trip to Martin to observe and speak at the Matica Slovenska “valne zhromazdenie” was both educational and fascinating. I was the only Slovak Canadian. There were observers from every major country that has a sizable Slovak population, almost 400 attendees. Once again, Mr. Jozef Markus was elected for a 3 year term as president of Matica Slovenska. The fascinating part was the radical changes in the makeup of the general governing body of MS (composed of 39 members). The members of MS expressed their desire for change to reflect the future needs and place of MS in both Slovakia and with the rest of the Slovaks living beyond the borders of Slovakia.
With Christmas lights decorating much of snow-covered Bratislava on
Nov. 29, 2001,
I returned home to Canada, back for the warm 15C weather of Toronto knowing that as long as Slovaks in Canada continue to work together, to deliver both materially and financially, there will be a One of a kind Exhibit in Slovakia next summer. In order to make the Exhibit a reality, we shall still continue to seek material, along with financial donations, to the project.
No donation is too small. See you all in Bratislava on July 5, 2002!