The Alberta Estonian Heritage Society (AEHS) celebrated 100 years of the first independence of Estonia at an all-day event in Stettler County.
About 300 people from across Canada attended the St. John’s Day Celebration on June 23 at Linda Hall complete with dancers from Estonia.
“It was a big feat to get two dancers from Estonia during the 100 Jaanipaev Celebration,” said AEHS President Kelly Schuler.
Many Estonian emigrants came to Stettler County in the early 1900s.
Former AEHS President Bob Tipman said his family came to Stettler County in 1902 and the family still owns the original homestead.
“In 1918, after the First World War, Estonia gained its first independence, which lasted until the Second World War,” said AEHS board member Eda McClung. “Independence was regained in 1991, with the fall of the iron curtain. No blood was lost during that most recent independence push. Instead, the struggle was dubbed the ‘Singing Revolution.’”
The event included pioneer games, including throwing a rolling pin at ‘George,’ following Estonian folklore that ‘George’ stayed at the tavern until 4 a.m. and when he got home his wife threw a rolling pin at him, said Dean Kerbes, who helped organize the pioneer games.
Evelyn Shursen and Eva Triin Pehlak led the singing of the Canadian and Estonian National Anthems.
The celebration was organized by the AEHS executive and board and made possible by the Estonian Foundation of Canada