Koosoleku avas Eestlaste Ühingu esimees Kalju Palmoja tervitades kõiki Eestlaste Ühingu ja Naiste Klubi poolt nimetades: "Meie rahva arv on tunduvalt vähenenud ja vananenud selle viimase 60 aasta jooksul – siiski oleme meie truult seda aastapäeva igal aastal pühitsenud."
Järgmisena võttis sõna meie aukonsul Anu van Hattem:
“Tere tulemast! Today we are celebrating the 94th anniversary of Estonia’s Independence. Eesti Vabariik first declared its independence on 24. February 1918. The Lääne Austraalia Eestlaste Ühing has celebrated this day every year since they officially formed in 1951 (although there were Estonians already in Perth who commemorated the day before then). It is lovely to see so many long term members and great to welcome those who have come to Perth more recently.
I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the Eesti Ühing and the Naiste Klubi which formed in 1964 because it is through their members that national days and cultural events continue to be recognised and celebrated.
Urmas Paet, the Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs wrote an email to commemorate this occasion. The email was to Honorary Consuls but I will share his sentiments as I believe they are relevant to all Estonians living outside of Estonia.
“Please accept my gratitude for your dedication and commitment in advancing Estonian interests and enhancing our cultural profile. It is important to us all over the world, to protect and promote the interests of Estonia and its citizens. As a small nation, Estonia must work hard to be noticed in the world.”
I was reminded of this significance when I met the Foreign Minister in Sydney for the opening of the Consulate-General last year. We reflected on his visit to Perth in 2009 when he opened the WA consulate. He was overwhelmed by the story of the Estonian community in Perth and was amazed to hear Estonian spoken. He said to my mother “Teie räägite eesti keelt sama hästi nagu eestlased praegu Eestis.” She replied “Meie oleme alati eesti keelt rääkinud”.
This makes me realise how important it is to record our story and I continue to encourage you to record your stories about life in Estonia, how you came to Perth and your memories of the Lääne Austraalia Eestlased. I also want to let you know that there are new enterprises. Last month we had the first meeting of the newly formed Käsitöö Ring with 4 generations represented and since then there is talk about arranging an Estonian playgroup. Estonian language classes are continuing and I have asked Hilja Toom, the choir conductor in Melbourne to visit Perth so we can organise a singing event. I’m also looking forward to showing another Estonian film in the Consulate garden. At the end of this year I hope many of you will consider participating in the Eesti Päevad in Sydney.
Whether the community is large or small what is important is that Estonia’s history and culture are celebrated and we can share these together and with as many people as possible.”
Ladus vestlus nii noorte kui vanemate eestlaste vahel möödus kiiresti. Oli tore kõiki koos näha.