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A mosaic of culture and history

the canadian cypriot federation

Canada’s Cypriots are numerous and spread out but one organisation brings them all together. PAUL LAMBIS speaks to its president

Since its inception, the Canadian Cypriot Federation has served as a link between Cyprus and Canada’s thriving diaspora of Cypriots. The organisation advances the political, social, cultural, and educational goals of the Cypriot community in Canada while also being a voice for justice and freedom in Cyprus.

“We preserve and enhance strong ties with the democratically elected government of Canada, at all levels of government, including local, provincial, and federal,” president of the Canadian Cypriot Federation (CCF), Christine Amygdalidis said. “We coordinate our efforts with the department of overseas Cypriots, the High Commission’s office in Ottawa, the Greek Consulate in Toronto, multicultural organisations and communities, as well as other ethnic groups.”

The CCF, which was established in 1984 and registered with the Canadian Federal Government as a non-profit corporation two years later, represents a significant number of Cypriot organisations across Canada.

According to Amygdalidis, the majority of Greek Cypriots who immigrated to Canada in the 1950s during the EOKA struggle and later after the Turkish invasion, have today successfully integrated into the nation’s rich diversity of cultures while making contributions to society in a variety of fields.

With a very diverse society in Canada, the Greek Cypriots believed it was crucial to promote their culture and heritage as well as share their homeland’s rich culture with the larger Canadian community.

“Our organisation has supported many Greek Cypriot families over the years, providing a strong sense of identity in a foreign country, while cementing relations between Cyprus and Canada,” Amygdalidis told Living. “The Greek Orthodox faith is practised by our children, who also learn about our rituals and traditions as well as the value of preserving their ethnicity and national identity.”

cypriot dances (1)

With approximately 30,000 Greek Cypriots currently residing in Canada – although Amygdalidis argues this figure may be higher – the CCF acts as a mother figure for the various Cypriot communities throughout Toronto, Ontario, Mississauga, Kitchener Waterloo, Montreal, Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Saskatchewan.

“A lot has been accomplished over the years, due to everyone’s efforts, dedication and commitment, contribution, personal sacrifices, and volunteerism to our organisation and to the Canadian society as a whole,” Amygdalidis said.

The CCF has served as a pillar of support over the years by establishing Cypriot community centres, schools, and churches and by launching initiatives through social programmes, cultural festivals, and historical event commemorations. “The love of the Greek Cypriot diaspora for democracy, freedom, ideals and values that have been passed down from generation to generation, have contributed to the mosaic and vitality of Canada’s multiculturalism and vibrant society and provide our youth with a positive and creative environment that encourages them to take pride in their heritage.”

remembering eoka (1)

The CCF, like all other Cypriot communities of the diaspora, has been a steadfast opponent of Turkey’s invasion and occupation of the island and is a powerful, voice for justice. “The Canadian Cypriot community supports a fair and viable solution to the Cyprus problem for all Cypriots,” she said.

“The CEC, a permanent residency category for those with skilled work experience in Canada, seeks to enhance the knowledge of the multicultural realities of the country, assuring equal opportunities for all Canadians regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, and ancestry,” Amygdalidis explained. “The CCF successfully led the effort to include ‘Cyprus’ on the list of countries that indicate place of birth. This modification prevented Turkish Cypriots from registering as a separate ethnic unity since the northern part of Cyprus is not recognised as an independent state.”

diaspora nepomak canadaAlong with its member organisations, POMAK (World Federation of Overseas Cypriots), PSEKA (Justice for Cyprus) and NEPOMAK, a network uniting young Cypriots worldwide, the CCF actively promotes Cyprus’ distinct culture, traditions, and customs, especially to the younger generation. “When our cultural legacy is passed down from generation to generation, it creates a sense of belonging, brings families together, and reinforces key values and beliefs,” Amygdalidis said. “More importantly, it advances our primary goals of justice and freedom for all Cypriots in a nation to which we have strong emotional and historical ties.”

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