Reg Towers, “Ethnic Groups : Greeks,” York University Libraries | Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections online exhibits

Campbell House Museum, 160 Queen St West, Toronto


9.00 – 9.30 Definitions
Greek Canadian and Greek American Studies: Crossing Boundaries
Yiorgos Anagnostou, The Ohio State University

9:30-11.15. Greek Canadians in film and literature

Reflections on a Crime Scene: What Making Violent August Taught Me
John Burry, President, Burgeoning Communications Inc.

On Mythologies and Texts; Tracing Greek Influences in N. American Literature
Eirini Kotsovili, Hellenic Studies, Simon Fraser University

Black Sheep:  Greek-Canadian Identity and Creative Writing
Yakos Spiliotopoulos, Writer, Toronto

We Need Constellations, Not a Canon: A Writer’s Perspective on Greek Canadian Literary Studies
Marianne Apostolides, Writer, Toronto

11:15-11.30 COFFEE BREAK

11.30 – 12.45 Immigration, Language, History. The Immigrec Project

The End of the Greek Mile End? Understanding Oblivion and Silence in Immigration Stories Thanks to Immigrec.
Tassos Anastassiadis, McGill University

The Greeks in Toronto Before World War II. No More an ‘Elusive Community’
Sakis Gekas, York University (with Petros Pechlivanoglou, Scientist, The Hospital for Sick Children and Assistant Professor, University of Toronto)


Aspects of Dialect Contact Among Greeks in Canada
Panayiotis Pappas, Simon Fraser University and Symeon Tsolakidis, University of Patras

12.45 – 1.15 LUNCH

1.15 – 3.00 Greek Immigration in 1950s-1970s Montreal: A Plural Approach

Working Towards Understanding the Gendered Aspects of Work: Greek Immigrant Women in Canada 1945-1975
Anthi Tsobou and Denise Soula Voutou, McGill University

Foucault and the Montreal YMCA- Analysing Governmentality and Social Engineering in the Greek Mile End Ghetto 1969-72.
Alex Grasic, McGill University

Migrants in the Garment Industry: The Case of the Greeks in Labor Movements
Jean-Philippe Bombay, McGill University

A History of Consumption: The Greek Canadian Tribune and the Greek Canadians of Montreal
Stavroula Pabst, McGill University

Sponsoring the “Dream”: the Case of Greek immigrants in Montreal
Alexandra Siotou, Postdoctoral Fellow at McGill University, Immigrec Project

3.00 – 3.15 COFFEE BREAK

3.15 – 5.00. Greek Canadians ; identities, press, education

“It’s All Greek Canadian to Me!”; Development of the Greek-Canadian Identity From 1950s- 1980s.
Christina Ioannides, York University

Marriage for Canada. Narratives of Greek Immigrant Νύφες
Elaina Lampropoulos, York University

Is Our Media Pro-Austerity?
Panagiotis Peter Milonas, York University

The Greek Canadian History Project: An Infrastructure for a New Field?
Chris Grafos, Greek Canadian History Project, York University

Paideia: Teaching Greek in the Context of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
Konstantinos Flegas, M.Ed., OCT, Greek Community of Toronto





Thursday May 3

Greek Canadian Studies Conference

HHF Public Lecture and Wine and Cheese Social Event

Thursday May 3, 6:00-9:30 pm at the historic Papermill Theatre at Todmorden Mills. (67 Pottery Road)

 Thomas W. Gallant

Remembering Violent August: the 1918 Anti-Greek Riot 100 Years On.

In the Centenary year of the riot against the Greek community in Toronto, Thomas Gallant will revisit the event, discussing how historical episodes such as this one become part of public history and how our understanding of them change as the contemporary context in which they are studied does. The lecture focuses less on the events themselves, though they will be discussed, but more on how the memory of them shifts and morphs over time. 

Thomas W. Gallant holds the Nicholas Family Endowed Chair in Modern Greek History and is Professor of Modern Greek History and Archaeology in the History Department and the Center for Hellenic Studies at the University of California, San Diego, He received his PhD in Classical Archaeology from the University of Cambridge. He is the author of twelve books and over 40 articles; among his books are the prize-winning Experiencing Dominion: Culture, Identity and Power in the British Mediterranean (2002), and August Burning: The 1918 Anti-Greek Riot in Toronto (2008), which was made into a documentary film. His more recently published works include: The Edinburgh History of the Greeks, 1768-1913: The Long Nineteenth Century (2015), Η εμπειρία της αποικιακής κυριαρχίας. Πολιτισμός, ταυτότητα και εξουσία στα Επτάνησα, 1817-1864 (2015), Modern Greece from Independence to the Present (2016), Νεότερη Ελλάδα.Από τον Πόλεμο της Ανεξαρτησίας μέχρι τις μέρες μας (2017). In progress are: Murder on Black Mountain: Love and Death on a Nineteenth Century Greek Island (2018) and The Greek-Ottoman War of 1897: Europe’s First Modern War (2019). He is currently editor-in-chief of the ten-volume Edinburgh History of the Greeks, Social Science editor of the Journal of Modern Greek Studies and director of KASHAP: the Kefalonia and Andros Social History and Archaeology Project. He is also a past president of the Modern Greek Studies Association.


Friday May 4

Greek Canadian Studies Conference

Campbell House Museum

8.30-9.00 Registration and breakfast

9.00 – 9.30 Definitions

Greek Canadian and Greek American Studies: Crossing Boundaries

Yiorgos Anagnostou, The Ohio State University

How does one conceptualize the boundaries of an academic field such as Greek Canadian studies? Greek Canadians, the object of this academic field, operate both nationally and transnationally. They inhabit the home nation which they negotiate, including Canada’s immigration and multicultural policies and they, at least a significant demographic, simultaneously sustain affiliations beyond the nation. They interconnect with the historical homeland, Greece, but also with other diaspora groups such as Greek Americans. Given the transnational, network-like social field of Greek Canada how do we imagine the scope of Greek Canadian studies, geographically and conceptually? What are the boundaries of this field of inquiry, and what is at stake as we go about defining these boundaries?
This presentation will take up these questions from the point of view of Greek American studies. My aim is to discuss several issues facing Greek American studies as a departure point to engage with scholars–but also non-academic publics–working within and on Greek Canada. The purpose is to initiate a much-needed discussion between the two fields by crossing area studies boundaries.
My work will address two interrelated questions. First, I will be examining the institutional location of Greek American studies in the US academy. Undoubtedly, the field is largely neglected by major disciplines like anthropology, English, and cultural studies while marginalized by a host of others, including, arguably, US Modern Greek studies scholars. From the vantage point of this disciplinary history I will be asking, what is the respective situation in Canada? What are some sound strategies to empower Greek American and Greek Canadian studies in the academy?
Secondly, I will be probing questions regarding Greek Canada–and therefore the scope and scholarly engagement of Greek Canadian studies–by looking at how “ethnic” organization, elites, and individuals construe Greek America. Dominant narratives, for instance, privilege the notion of Greek America as an “American ethnic community.” Only some accept the definition “diaspora,” though this usage increasingly gains ground. Non-academic publics do not employ the word transnational in their self-representation. Greek American studies necessarily makes these self-representations an object of study, as the latter illuminate issues of self-definition (i.e. identity), belonging, and “community” interests (i.e. cultural politics). The examination of community self-representations offers a starting point to map Greek America as a social field attached with multiple meanings and diverse social geographies: 1) national (i.e. “American”); 2) transnational/diaspora (i.e. U.S./Greece) and bilateral (i.e. Greek Canadian/Greek American or Greek American/Greek Australian); and 3) global (i.e. global Hellenism). What does each location enable and what does it disable? In what ways are those mappings relevant to Greek Canadian studies?
My discussion raises the question of the role of scholarship in knowledge-making about Greek America and Greek Canada. Critical scholarship is positioned to contribute to the conversation about emerging definitions of the Greek diaspora by making visible previously excluded perspectives, reflecting on the political implications of community self-representations, and identifying alternative narratives of identity. I will be setting this framework to subsequently ask how we envision Greek Canadian studies, and its role in shaping Greek Canada. What is at stake as we initiate these mappings?


9:30-11.15. Greek Canadians in film and literature

Reflections on a Crime Scene: What Making Violent August Taught Me
John Burry
, President, Burgeoning Communications Inc.

Crime novelist Richard Price once commented that when you circle around a murder long enough, you get to know a city. And while my documentary, Violent August: The 1918 Anti-Greek Riots in Toronto, did not study a murder, it did spend three years investigating a major crime. I’d like to propose a paper reflecting on my experience making the documentary and what it taught me about the city and the people I met making the film. I’d like to reflect on how the film changed my views about “Toronto-the-Good”, about the Greek immigrant experience as I then understood it, and about my father and his own experience as an immigrant in the city in 1921. More specifically, I’d like to reflect on why the riot remained largely forgotten, by both the city and the Greek community, for almost a century – and why there is such current interest in revisiting and commemorating these sad events. Finally, I’d like to comment on how the film changed my views on issues of integration, assimilation and my own Canadian identity.

On Mythologies and Texts; Tracing Greek Influences in N. American Literature
Eirini Kotsovili
, Hellenic Studies, Simon Fraser University

What is the relation between past and present? Between world, and nation/s? Individual, and others? Individual, and self? How are the aforementioned questions reflected upon in literature? What are the makings of Greek-/Canadian literature? What can be said about the frequent use and reference to Greek mythology, epic poetry, tragedy and satire? How relevant are the philosophical ideas emerging from Antiquity? This paper examines key themes emerging from ancient Greek culture that are found in contemporary literary texts of Margaret Atwood, Thomas King and Pan Bouyoucas. It examines: i) archetypes, philosophical notions and ideas in an international context, ii) offers a critical analysis on the dis/continuities of the representations of Greek ideas, iii) contextualizes the aforementioned, in discussions on identity, gender and theory.

Black Sheep:  Greek-Canadian Identity and Creative Writing
Yakos Spiliotopoulos
, Writer, Toronto

My story, Black Sheep, doesn’t touch on any themes relating to Greek Canadian identity.  It doesn’t even allude to the Greek Canadian immigrant experience.  But the work itself is unquestionably a product of both, and, I hope, a small piece of a very large body of work which falls under the umbrella of Greek Canadian Studies. Whether or not I always realize it, or even wish it to be true, much of my writing is informed by my Greek Canadian identity. And Black Sheep is perhaps the clearest example. Without the Canadian side of me, this story would surely be rendered in a very different way.  Without the Greek side, not even a notion of this work is contemplated.  Which is to say, this story wouldn’t be written without an intense interest not just in the Greece that my parents left behind, but in the Greece of today, the one that I know. In this sense, Greece’s evolving story is intrinsically tied to my own.  Tempting as it may be to look at Greece through a historical rear-view mirror, particularly in the context of what circumstances led to a migration, it is my belief that the evolving story of the country today continues to play a significant role in my own identity, and what informs my work.


We Need Constellations, Not a Canon: A Writer’s Perspective on Greek Canadian Literary Studies
Marianne Apostolides,
Writer, Toronto

In this talk, I’ll argue that Greek Canadian Literary Studies must be shaped by constellations of works by Greek Canadians, and about Greek history/ philosophy/ culture. Each constellation would highlight the correlations among individual books, thereby telling a story about Greek-Canadianness—one that’s open to myriad interpretations. This gives the freedom for each scholar to create his/ her own constellation(s) to present to students and the public. In dialogue with other scholars, the ‘cosmos’ of Greek Canadian Literature will be populated by various groupings of literary works. I’ll assert that any attempt to definitively determine the category ‘Greek Canadian Literature’ does a disservice to the writing, the writers, and ultimately the public: the creation of a canon, in other words, would limit our understanding of Greece and its ongoing resonance in contemporary Canadian society. In order to make this point, I’ll draw on my experience as a writer. I’ll argue that group identity—whether that identity is determined by ethnicity, nationality, geography, or even literary tradition—is antithetical to the creative process. When I write, I must be stripped bare of all identity. If I’m not, I cannot adequately do my job. The nullification of group identity—one that’s necessary within the creative process—ought to guide any discussion of how to shape Greek Canadian Literary Studies. It argues for a constellation metaphor rather than the determination of a literary canon.


11:15-11.30 COFFEE BREAK

 11.30 – 12.45 Immigration, Language, History. The Immigrec Project

The End of the Greek Mile End? Understanding Oblivion and Silence in Immigration Stories Thanks to Immigrec.
Tassos Anastassiadis,
McGill University

Once known as Little Sparta or the Greek ghetto, the Mile end neighbourhood has progressively slipped into oblivion as a Greek neighbourhood both among the Greek and the wider Montreal community. Drawing on some preliminary findings from the Immigrec research project, this presentation will present a few hypotheses on the way multiple connexions between immigration, politics and trauma contribute to this  erasure from collective memory and the need to re-historicize the Greek immigrant experience in Montreal.

The Greeks in Toronto Before World War II; No More an ‘Elusive Community’
Sakis Gekas,
York University (with Petros Pechlivanoglou, Scientist, The Hospital for Sick Children and Assistant Professor, University of Toronto)

The history of Greeks in Canada before WWII is largely unknown while the few works that exist are several decades old. One author has called the Toronto Greeks an ‘elusive community’. This paper presents some of the first findings of the ongoing research and book-length project on the social, economic and political aspects of the history of Greek immigration to Canada between 1890s and 1930s. The project examines the data recorded in the 1921 Census that concern Greek immigrants from Greece and the Ottoman Empire. The Census is analyzed for the first time to update the historiography of Greeks in Canada. Existing studies focus on the post-WWII period, without paying sufficient attention to the pre-war conditions and immigration that to some extent shaped the post-war history of Greek immigration. The Immigrec project fills this historiographical gap with the creation of the most important resource on the history of Greeks in Canada, focusing on the period after 1950s; as this paper shows this project allows us to move beyond the often rigid distinction between pre-WWII and post WWII period of Greek immigration to Canada. The research addresses issues of homeland politics and shows how in several cases ‘immigrants’ were fleeing war zones in the 1890s and early 1900s from war-torn Western Macedonia and Asia Minor and in the 1920s when Greek and Armenian refugees decided to move to Canada. The paper will also present some new interpretations of the anti-Greek riots of 1918 and discuss the commemoration of this event by Greeks in Toronto this year.

Aspects of Dialect Contact Among Greeks in Canada
Panayiotis Pappas,
Simon Fraser University

The paper discusses the variety of research projects that can be conducted within the corpus of recorded sociolinguistic interviews which were conducted for the purposes of the project Immigration and Language in Canada: Greeks and Greek Canadians (Anastassiadis et al 2017). Over 200 speakers of Greek who immigrated to Canada during what is known as the second wave of Greek migration have been recorded, and approximately half of these interviews (113 at the moment) have been orthographically. The participants originate not only from larger cities (Athens, Thesaloniki, Patras) where Standard Modern Greek is used, but also from rural areas (especially villages from the Peloponnese). Most speakers (both rural and urban) have had basic schooling in Greece before moving to Canada, where they found employment mostly in the restaurant industry.

We will present preliminary results from three on-going studies that focus on dialect contact with respect to the following features of Greek:
1. The usage pattern of imperfective morphology, specifically, the variation between the (SMG) variant /usa/, and the dialectal /aɣa/ for the 1st person singular active of class 2 verbs (Browning 2002).
2. The palatalization of /l/ and /n/ before the high front vowel /i/ (Pappas 2008)
3. The deletion of unstressed high vowels (/i/ and /u/) (Newton 1972)
The examination of these three different dialectal features reveal different facets of the dynamics of dialect contact. For the imperfective, which as a morphological feature is more easily recognized by speakers we find evidence of mixture of dialectal and standard features in their usage. The analysis reveals the coexistence of features that belong to different style registers of SMG, i.e. +/- vernacular and +/- dialectal. Furthermore, we find not only the adoption of SMG forms by dialectal speakers; we also have examples of usage of the dialectal form (/aɣa/) by speakers of varieties that do not employ this suffix.
The comparison of the pattern of palatalization to that of high vowel deletion provides insight into the power of dialect stigmatization. Both of these features are stigmatized in contemporary Greek, as indices of lack of education, provincialism, and lack of sophistication. However, while the prescription against vowel deletion goes back at least 50 years, the stigmatization of /l/ and /n palatalization is a more recent phenomenon, starting perhaps in the 1980s. Since the speakers in this corpus immigrated after the stigmatization of high vowel deletion but before the stigmatization of palatalization, we find that speakers from dialectal areas which have these features exhibit avoidance of vowel deletion but maintain the pattern of palatalization.

12.45 – 1.15 LUNCH

1.15– 3.00 Greek Immigration in 1950s-1970s Montreal: A Plural Approach

Working Towards Understanding the Gendered Aspects of Work: Greek Immigrant Women in Canada 1945-1975
Anthi Tsobou and Denise Soula Voutou
, McGill University

This paper draws on the preliminary findings of an ongoing interdisciplinary research project, which studies the socio-history, language and linguistic practices of Greek men and women who have migrated to Canada from 1945 to 1975, and is being carried out by the Department of History and Classical Studies at McGill University in collaboration with York University, Simon Frazer and the University of Patras in Greece. Through the analysis of oral testimonies, and by drawing on relevant bibliographic sources on Greek immigration (Dounia 2004; Gavaki 2009, Tatsoglou 2009), we discovered that due to economic necessity produced by their immigrant status, some women become a second earner for the family, entering nonunionized, manual, or low-paying labor market sectors. Using a gender based analysis, we will examine how Greek immigrant women experience the Canadian labour society and context. How do they face intersectional forms of disadvantage, oppression and difficulty in terms of work (whether it be paid or unpaid, formal or informal)? How does immigration and economic scarcity affect the normative gender expectations when it comes to labour, while also reproducing some traditional gender hierarchies?

Foucault and the Montreal YMCA- Analysing Governmentality and Social Engineering in the Greek Mile End Ghetto 1969-72.
Alex Grasic
, McGill University

The Montreal YMCA’s Mile End West Project ran from 1969-72 and consisted of several initiatives which had the intention of better-integrating the Greek immigrant community in the Mile End with the city of Montreal, Quebecois society, and Canadian society at large. The Project focused on improving the material condition of the immigrants; many buildings in the area had been built over fifty years before and were in desperate need of renovation and repair, Greek workers were abused by their employers because of their lacking knowledge of local laws; and they remained isolated because of their inability to speak English or French. It hoped to provide the immigrants with the necessary resources and means to organise themselves vis-à-vis other groups and institutions in the city, as well as alleviating many of the social issues perceived as endemic to the Greek Mile End community.

The Project no doubt influenced Greek assimilation in Montreal, but its implementation intersected with several other key aspects of Greek life in Montreal. Particular questions that will be investigated include: how were the Project’s initiatives received by the pre-existing Greek Community, and what was their interaction with the YMCA? How did the divide between Anglophones and Francophones in the city impact the Project? Further questions will include: what was the philosophical underpinning of the YMCA’s work at that time? And, using Foucault’s concepts of governmentality and discipline, to what extent can the Mile End West Project be seen as a case of social engineering as opposed to a philanthropic endeavour; did the Greeks ever have the ability to set the agenda of the Project or did the YMCA remain in charge throughout? Was the Project a genuine attempt by the YMCA to give the Greeks resources and the means to interact with Montreal civil society, or a top down attempt at assimilation so that the new immigrants may be better surveyed and controlled?

Migrants in the Garment Industry: The Case of the Greeks in Labor Movements
Jean-Philippe Bombay, McGill University 

The study of migrants in 1960s and 1970s Montreal remains scarce. Historians have studied Montreal’s immigrant or allophone populations individually. This results in research that not only studies migrant populations in isolation from each other, but also from English and French Montrealers. In fact, this approach often embeds migrant communities’ intercultural relations into the nationalist dilemma over Quebec’s identity: either a community aligns with the anglophones or with the francophones. Yet cultural groups interacted on a regular basis. For instance, Greek, Polish, and Jewish newcomers often worked in the garment factories alongside French Canadians. Together, they faced the misdeeds of their employers and the economic exploitation that came along with it. These workers organized against their employers through their labor union, the Amalgamated Workers Union. But were these workers really united in the factories? Did these inter-ethnic relations stop outside the factory? And, more broadly, what does this tell about Montreal immigration history of the 1960s and 1970s? By focusing on the Greeks and Quebecers active in the Amalgamated Workers Union, I explore how inter-ethnic relations allowed this union to happen. Rather than the usual isolation depicted in Montreal’s historiography on migration, this talk will underscore the presence of interactions among the plural labor class communities of 1960s and 1970s Montreal. To achieve this goal, I mobilize Will Hanley’s concept of vulgar cosmopolitanism, that is a “low, unrefined, plain, ordinary (but not obscene) cosmopolitanism,” to understand the Greeks’ social interactions.


A History of Consumption: The Greek Canadian Tribune and the Greek Canadians of Montreal
Stavroula Pabst, McGill University

Because buying and consuming products and services is an everyday activity, knowledge of a community’s consumption patterns can reveal information about its everyday lifestyle, including its economic situation, language preferences, and gender roles. A source for determining such consumption habits can be derived from advertisements in common materials, such as local community newspapers. For the recently arrived Greek migrants in Montreal in the 1960s and 70s, who were not necessarily fluent in English or French, one such newspaper (and therefore, a source of advertisements for analysis) is the Greek Canadian Tribune (Το Έλληνοκαναδικόν Βήμα), which has been in print since 1964.  For this project, the data from the advertisements from the recently digitalized issues of The Greek Canadian Tribune from the years 1964-1976 will be logged, with attention focused on the languages being used, representations of gender, as well as the locations and types of products proposed in the advertisements. While advertisements on groceries, discount furniture and other basic services throughout the Greek Canadian Tribune, may echo the needs of the Greek immigrant population in Montreal, which was largely composed of unskilled wage earners, frequent advertisements about more expensive commodities, such as jewelry, international investments, and travel suggest a more complex picture.

The consistent use of Greek, frequent appeals to shop within the community, and the prominence of organizations dedicated to preserving the Greek social circle in the present demonstrate that the newspaper was part of a larger effort to maintain the Greek migrants within the imagined national community despite their displacement.  Other frequent advertisements in the newspaper, however, such as advertisements for factory work, regional political advertisements, and newer household appliances suggest that despite the community’s best efforts, assimilation of the Greek immigrant population into larger Canadian culture was still taking place.

Sponsoring the “dream”: the case of Greek immigrants in Montreal
Alexandra Siotou, McGill University

The proposed paper based on the study of oral and written archives focus on the notion of “sponsorship” in the case of Greek immigration to Canada during the period 1945-975. More specific, it attempts to study the official and unofficial migration networks emerged due to this immigration policy (people could apply as immigrants sponsored by a family or group already in Canada) examining how “sponsorship” conceptualizes mobility, defines migratory identity and citizenship, reshapes the gendered hierarchies and reformulates the relations between family members. This paper draws on the preliminary findings of the oral history project “Immigrec” that is being carried out by the Department of History and Classical Studies at the McGill University in collaboration with the York University, Simon Frazer and the University of Patras in Greece.

3.00-3.15 COFFEE BREAK

3.15 – 5.00 Greek Canadians; identities, press, education

“It’s All Greek Canadian to Me!”; Development of the Greek-Canadian Identity From 1950s- 1980s.
Christina Ioannides
, York University

When considering Canada’s diverse population, one may consider immigration to be a contributing element in the nation’s renowned multicultural mosaic. As emphasized by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, “diversity is the engine of invention,” which is a concept most certainly attributed to one of Canada’s core values as a nation.  With taking this into consideration, the purpose of this paper is to address the various ways in which Greek immigrants maintained Greek traditions in Canada following the post-war period, specifically between the1950s and the late 1980s, as well as the development of a Greek-Canadian identity. With the use of research materials from the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections and interviews from the Immigration and Language in Canada study, I aim to demonstrate the influence of cultural, political, and religious practices as elements in the development of a Greek-Canadian identity, meaning Greek immigrants and their families identified with being both Greek and Canadian. During the aforementioned period, Greek immigrants and their families showed evidence of maintaining a “dualism” while living in Canada as Greek-Canadians.  This dualism is evident in the ways in which Greek-Canadians had expressed their “Greekness” in the public milieu (when this group was in non-Greek spaces), as well as in private spaces (being in the home, at Greek Community gatherings, and other environments Greeks occupied).  As per the majority of the interviews from the Immigrec Database, Greek immigrants showed interest in learning English and/or French in order to assimilate into Canadian society, so that they may be able to obtain work, interact with their fellow Canadians, network, and inform themselves of the latest developments/events occurring in Canadian society. Conjunctively, according to these interviews, the Greek immigrants demonstrated a desire to maintain traditions and cultural practices from their country of origin.  This entailed that many participants testified that speaking Greek within the household and maintaining cultural traditions (such as national Greek holidays, religious observances, and interactions with fellow Greek-Canadian families) was of paramount importance.  Consequently, this raises the questions about whether the Greek-Canadians intended to integrate into Canadian society, or whether these strong ties to their Greek roots only segregated the community from that of the host country.  It is my contention that these affiliations to the Canadian society and the homeland (Greece) were a result of how the immigrants identified themselves.  This strengthened their ability to maintain ties to both Canadian and Greek observances/cultures, and thus contributed to the development of Greek-Canadian identity.

Therefore, throughout this paper, I will apply sociological theories from various scholars to the research referred to above in order to fully understand the social constructs that Greek-Canadians and their families made while living in Canada.  Additionally, testimonies from first generation Greek-Canadians (being the children of Greek immigrants) that were interviewed will be examined in order to compare the ways in which Greek-Canadians defined their “Greekness”, and how these traditions inherited by the first generation Greek-Canadians evolved in Canada.

Marriage for Canada. Narratives of Greek Immigrant Νύφες
Elaina Lampropoulos,
York University

The arranged marriages of Greek immigrants became popularized by P. Voulgaris film Νύφες. Research has not followed suit however. The paper presented attempts to fill this gap in historiography and forms part of a larger project about arranged marriages of Greek immigrants in Canada. The research is based on interviews conducted for the Immigrec project. Some of the issues the paper will address are the common motivators, trends, experiences of “mail order brides” or picture brides, or brides of arranged marriages that immigrated to Canada from Greece prior to 1975.  Strong trends in narratives of migrants include push factors, courtship practices, coercion from family, loss of innocence, focus on family and children, unhappiness in marriages, and socioeconomic status. The project will also introduce a comparative perspective with studies on arranged marriages of Greeks in Australia.

Is Our Media Pro-Austerity?
Peter Milonas
, York University

The recent social and political developments in Greece are polarizing and they spark public debate. The whole world focused its attention on the small, poverty-stricken, Mediterranean nation and the public is looking towards the media for answers. Canadians are no exception and the domestic media have been covering the events in Greece since the financial crisis broke in 2008. Among the stories to pour out of the small Mediterranean country was the impressive political gains made by the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza), an anti-austerity party that rose to victory in a snap election. However, a lot of the foreign coverage has been characterized as negative. But, what is the Canadian media’s stance? In order to answer this question, I conducted a quantitative content analysis by breaking down the coverage of Syriza by three major Canadian newspapers – two national and one regional – from the moment the Greek legislative elections were called through the first two weeks of the new government’s negotiations with its lenders. I chose three different newspapers that serve different segments of the population: The Globe and Mail, the National Post and the Toronto Star. The intention of my study is to discover how Syriza was covered in the Canadian press and, in extension, if our media is pro austerity.


 The Greek Canadian History Project: An Infrastructure for a New Field?
Chris Grafos
, Greek Canadian History Project, York University

There currently exists a dearth of academic literature on the Greek immigrant experience in Canada. This is particularly true, but certainly not limited to, the field of history. The few foundational sources that do exist are sociological in nature. While this is not necessarily a problem, the works tend to privilege present-minded questions. For those who know the Greek immigrant experience well, there is a clear recognition that our collective understanding of “Greekness” in Canada is incomplete.

In 2012, the Greek Canadian History Project (GCHP) took on the ambitious work of filling this gap. Although this work continues, the archival infrastructure amassed through the GCHP’s mandate has created a foundation that has potential to transcend the work of the professional historian. An archive that has documented materials related to Greeks and gender, class, ethnicity, migration, memory, and so much more has the potential to feed other artistic expressions. Film makers, writers, and artists now have a publically accessible resource that centres in Greek migration and Greekness in Canada. This presentation will highlight the importance of the GCHP by presenting aspects of collected sources; ultimately, showcasing its potential to be the foundation of a Greek Canadian arts “scene”.


Paideia: Teaching Greek in the Context of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
Konstantinos Flegas,
Greek Community of Toronto

Greek-language education in Canada has a history of more than a century. According to a study by the University of Crete (2004), in recent decades there is a downward trend in the number of students attending Greek-language schools in Canada. Additionally, research and classroom experience reveal that the teaching and learning of Greek as a second/foreign language is difficult for teachers and students respectively. Today, the preservation and cultivation of Greek language for students living abroad are at a critical point, as the methods which are utilized to motivate them, and the learning expectations set by the different types of schools are significantly different than those of previous generations. For the latter, it is now widely accepted, that the curriculum material that has been produced in Greece for teaching Greek as a second/foreign language is no longer effective in the classrooms. As a result, in the last few years, efforts are being made, by Greek communities around the world to produce suitable curriculum resources, which are able to meet the interests, needs and learning profiles of their students.
During the 2014-2015 school year, the Greek Community of Toronto (GCT) introduced a new and very ambitious Greek language curriculum called Paideia. Paideia is a comprehensive Greek language program, which the GCT developed in collaboration with the University of West Macedonia. It is a Greek Language program that can support and enhance Greek language education well into the 21st century, as it is unique when it is compared to other contemporary Greek language curricula. Paideia is the first and currently the only comprehensive Greek language program that is based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment (CEFR). Additionally, Paideia includes teaching and learning resources for all the grades from Kindergarten to grade 12. Specifically, Paideia provides a curriculum document with specific learning goals and expectations per grade, teacher manuals with detailed lesson plans to support and guide teachers, and student books with cross curricular content, with a greater emphasis on Greek geography, history, culture, mythology, religion and traditions. The first results of this longitudinal study, which started in September 2017, indicate that there is a positive correlation between Paideia and a successful performance in the official Greek language proficiency test knows as Ellinomatheia Exams. In its fourth year of implementation, Paideia has managed not to only stop the decline in student enrollment in GCT schools, but also to increase the student population at an annual rate of approximately 15%. Moreover, there has been an increase in the number of students who participate in the Ellinomatheia exams. Finally, the program’s success has raised the interest of other Greek communities in Ontario, which already have started to successfully implement Paideia in their schools.


Conference participants:

Yiorgos Anagnostou is an associate professor of modern Greek and American ethnic studies at the Ohio State University. He has published widely on ethnicity and immigration in various scholarly disciplines, including ethnography, folklore, sociology, and diaspora and cultural studies.

Tassos Anastassiadis. After being admitted in Engineering School in Greece and wanting to study theoretical physics instead, I moved to the USA where I combined physics with philosophy. After having studied in the USA (B.A. Political Science, M.A. French Sociolinguistics, Middlebury College) and France (DEA History EHESS, DEA Political Science Sciences-Po, Agregation of History, and PhD in History, Sciences Po), and worked in France (teaching at Sciences-Po, EHESS, EPHE) and Greece (fellow of the French School in Archeology, Classical and Modern Greek Studies), I have been, since 2011,  Assistant Professor of History and Papachristidis Chair in Modern Greek and Greek-Canadian Studies at McGill University in Canada. It is thus only natural that I have an interest in all aspects of schooling, educational systems and their interactions. More precisely, my interests lie with the study of transnational networks of activists (religious and educational) and their role in institutional change and state formation, especially with regard to Greece within its Balkan and Mediterranean context in the modern era. I have recently edited or coedited 3 volumes on these topics and am under contract for a series of monographs. Since 2014, I have the honour to serve as a member of the Executive Board of the Modern Greek Studies Association.

Marianne Apostolides is the author of six books, three of which have been translated. She’s a recipient of the Chalmers Arts Fellowship, and the winner of the 2017 K.M. Hunter Award for Literature.

Jean-Philippe Bombay is a student in History and Islamic Studies at McGill University. Of Italian descent, he has a particular interest in issues related to migration, diversity in Montreal and inter-communal interactions. He will present his research on the working class in the garment industry and their unions. He will be completing his MA in History at McGill History, where he will study early modern Balkan history.

John Burry is a Toronto-born educator, film maker, editor and marketing communications consultant.  Since 1980, he has been a partner in the marketing communications & publishing firm, The A*B*Y Group Inc.  As the president of Burgeoning Communications Inc. he is an accredited writer and producer of three television documentaries (for BRAVO! and PBS-New York). In April 2010, he completed writing, producing and directing “Violent August: The 1918 Anti-Greek Riots in Toronto” for OMNI Television, (winner of a Heritage Toronto award).  He has taught professional communications in the Faculty of Communication & Design at Ryerson University since 1999.

Sakis Gekas  is Associate Professor of History in the Department of History at York University specializing in Modern Greek and Mediterranean History and the coordinator of the Hellenic Studies Program at York University.  He obtained his MA (Social History) and Ph.D (History) from the University of Essex and his BA (History) from Ionian University, Corfu.  His research interests include the history of British colonialism in the Mediterranean, the economic and social history of the Ionian Islands and the Greek State and the history of migration in diaspora, in Canada in particular. Sakis recently published his book: Xenocracy. State, Class and Colonialism in the Ionian Islands, 1815-1864, Berghahn (2017). His current research includes the history of Greeks in Canada, especially before WWII, but also in the period 1950s-1970s as part of the Immigrec project.

Chris Grafos  Chris Grafos completed his doctorate in the Department of History at York University in 2016. His dissertation, titled Canada’s Greek Moment: Transnational Politics, Activists, and Spies During the Long Sixties, examines Greek immigrant homeland politics during the period of Greece’s military dictatorship from 1967 to 1974 in Toronto and Montreal. It carefully considers the internal dynamics of anti-junta activism in Canada’s Greek populations, but it also contemplates the meanings of external perceptions, particularly from the Canadian state and Canadian public discourse. At the same time, this dissertation carefully considers Canada’s social and political environment and shows how uniquely Canadian politics ran parallel to and informed Greek homeland politics.

Alex Grasic has just completed his Honours Bachelor’s Degree in History at McGill University. Over the past year, he has also been working with Immigrec, where he completed archival research that included digitizing a Montreal Greek-Canadian newspaper and cataloguing a selection of the Montreal YMCA collection housed at Concordia University. He will be presenting on how power manifested itself in a YMCA social work project that was focused on integrating new Greek immigrants in Montreal’s Mile End during the late sixties and early seventies. Having Greek grandparents from the area, Alexander has found this research, and Immigrec’s work as a whole, very illuminating. 

Christina Ioannides is currently student in the Masters of History program at York University, with cultural and socio-historical research interests revolving around Greek-Canadian studies.  Christina has also completed five-years of undergraduate studies in the Hellenic Studies program at York University, was the former York intern at the Canadian Institute in Greece during summer 2015and was also former President of the Hellenic Students’ Association of York University for two academic terms.

Eirini Kotsovili studied history and Hispanic studies at McGill University and Literature/Modern Greek at University of Oxford (St. Cross College/Somerville College, where she was also a Junior Dean). Her research interests revolve around the use of the auto/biographical element and fall under the thematic spheres of identity, politics, gender;  how writers reflect on and present their overlap in given cultural, socio-political, historical contexts while drawing material from lived experiences. She has presented her work on literature and Modern Greek politics and gender on several international conferences, and her publications include “The Dark Side of the Sun: Aegean Islands as Places of Exile, Desolation and Death in the post-World War II Politically Turbulent Greece” (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2009).

Elaina Lampropoulos  MA History, BA Kinesiology, BEd Education; Research Interest: Greek Immigration, Greek refugees, Oral history, Cultural Identity, Collective memory, Female Migration, Performance of Identity, Greek Civil War, Soviet Refugees, Post Civil War Greece. Thesis: Belonging to Greece & The Soviet Union: Greeks of Tashkent 1949-1974. Current Role: Immmigrec Project Researcher, Teacher Peel District School Board

Panagiotis Peter Milonas is a journalist and a Ph.D. candidate in the Social and Political Thought program at York University. His research interests include far-right political parties, immigration and racism, journalistic practices and standards, media and culture, and the history of Modern Greece. Milonas holds a Bachelor of Business Administration with Honours in Business and Economics, a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Hellenic Studies, a Masters of Journalism, and a Masters of Arts in Political Science.

 Stavroula Pabst  is a first year Master’s student in the History department at McGill University. Stavroula is a participant of the Immigrec project at McGill, where she focuses on the consumption patterns of the Greek community of Montreal.  Previously, Stavroula graduated from the Ohio State University with a B.A. in History and Modern Greek and a minor in Russian. In her free time, Stavroula enjoys international politics, comedy writing, and improv.

Panayotis Pappas Dr. Pappas’ Ph.D. dissertation examined the placement of weak object pronouns in the popular texts of Later Medieval Greek. Dr Pappas’ research interests are mainly in the areas of historical linguistics, language variation and change, but he is also interested in issues of language contact, Balkan linguistics and the teaching of Modern Greek. He is currently working on language variation in BC English, clitic placement in Cypriot Greek, the effect of frequency on lexical change in Greek, and the pronunciation of palatal laterals in Cypriot Greek.


Alexandra Siotou is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History and Classical Studies at McGill University. Alexandra studied Social Anthropology at the University of Thessaly (Greece). She holds a Master’s Degree in Cultural Policy, Management and Communication from the Department of Communication, Media and Culture at the Panteion University of Athens. In 2015, she completed her Ph.D. thesis in Social Anthropology at the University of Thessaly. Her research interests include the anthropology of migration, emotions, gender, sexuality and body politics. While at McGill, Alexandra is participating in the Oral History Program “Immigrec,” where she conducts research on Greek immigration to Canada and supervises the oral history team.

Yakos Spiliotopoulos has published short stories in journals including Exile Magazine and The Nashwaak Review, and in the collection Everything Change:  An Anthology of Climate Fiction.  His work has been shortlisted for several awards, including the Exile/Vanderbilt Short Story Contest (CVC3 and CVC7), the Writers Union of Canada Short Prose Competition (2016), and the 2016 Climate Fiction Short Story Contest held by Arizona State University.

Anthi Tsobou is a History student with a minor in gender studies at McGill University. As a research assistant of the Immigrec project she has been part of the oral history team conducting interviews and writing summaries and preliminary analyses. As a Greek immigrant woman herself she has found the interviews and recruiting processes illuminating, interesting and inspiring.

Symeon Tsolakidis is a research associate at the University of Patras and external consultant for the SFU team regarding the Immigrec Project. 

Denise Soula Voutou  is a third-year undergraduate studying psychology and sociology at McGill University. She was born and raised in Montreal, a city which has exposed her to many different and beautiful cultures, while allowing her to uphold her own. This project is very dear to her as she is the child of Greek immigrants. Her job on this research project is to conduct interviews so as to gain insight into Greek immigration through the firsthand experiences of the immigrants themselves.