York University in Toronto will expand its physical archive and establish a digital archive highlighting the experiences and history of the Greek diaspora in Canada, thanks to a $1.4 million CAD gift from the Hellenic Heritage Foundation.
The university will change the name of its archives from the Greek Canadian History Project to the Hellenic Heritage Foundation Greek Canadian Archives in recognition of the donation, which will last over five years.
“For more than two decades, the Hellenic Heritage Foundation has been a generous supporter of the university and the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies,” York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton said. “Today’s landmark $1.4 million contribution will serve to expand the newly renamed Hellenic Heritage Foundation Greek Canadian Archives, providing indispensable resources for scholars and researchers exploring the immigrant experience in Canada.”
The physical archive includes documents, newspapers, books, images, audio and video tapes and other files that catalogue the experiences of Greek immigrants to Canada after World War II.
With the addition of a digital section comes a public search portal where users can access newly catalogued exhibits and oral histories captured from interviews. Researchers will be able to use the digital archive to tell stories of newcomer life in Canada and provide a framework for the study of the Greek diaspora worldwide.
The Hellenic Heritage Foundation’s support builds on work that began in 2012 under the leadership of then-graduate student Christopher Grafos and his supervisor, professor Sakis Gekas. Gekas serves as the Hellenic Heritage Foundation Chair of Modern Greek History at York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.
At that time, Grafos and Gekas began collecting memorabilia and records related to Greek immigrants to capture and preserve the record of their experience in Canada. Grafos has since become director of the project and has built the collection into a vast anthology of the country’s immigrant experience.
The new $1.4 million CAD funding will further this progress by helping to process, organize and digitize the collection and make it widely available for researchers and students. The gift will also fund the development of a new course on the history of Greeks in Canada.
“Investing in the HHF Greek Canadian Archives represents the foundation of what we hope to achieve. The archives will be public and available for people to study,” Hellenic Heritage Foundation President Tony Lourakis said. “They’ll be able to learn about Greek Canadian history in a way that they might not experience from other public historical records.”
The Hellenic Heritage Foundation is a non-profit organization with a mission to preserve, promote and advance Greek education, culture and heritage in Canada.
For more information about the announcement, visit the York University website.
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