Meeting with Prime Minister of Canada the Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau

The Prime Minister invited a small group of representatives of the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal and other representatives of Greeks in Montreal to a round table discussion. The purpose of the meeting was for the Prime Minister to hear directly from us what the Federal Government can do to help us meet our needs and goals. The meeting was very open, productive and successful, and I am extremely honoured and grateful to the Prime Minster for taking the time from his extremely busy schedule to meet with us.

Annie Koutrakis, President, Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal

In addition to the Prime Minister and his staff, in attendance was Emmanuella Lambropoulos MP for St. Laurent. Representing the HCGM were Annie Koutrakis, President, Andy Crilis, Executive VP, Voula Neofotistos VP and Secretary of Education, and Eleni Fakotakis, Director of Social Services. Also representing Greeks in Montreal were Nicholas Pagonis, past President of the HCGM, John Theodosopoulos, past President of the HCM and President of the Hellenic Congress of Quebec, and Dr. Theodore Halatsis, past HCGM Executive Board member and President of the Canadian Hellenic Congress.

Links to the Prime Minister’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JustinPJTrudeau/

Link to St. Laurent MP, Emmanuella Lambropoulos’ website: https://www.facebook.com/emlambropoulos/

Opening Remarks by the President of HCGM, Annie Koutrakis at Round Table Meeting with Prime Minister of Canada the Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, July 16, 2019

Thank you Prime Minister for inviting us. I know the most important resource you have is time and thank you for sharing some of it with us.

As you may know, I am the newly elected President of the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal, the first woman President in its 113 year history. I am also proud to say that of the 24 members of our Board that were elected, 11 are women, just under half: Because it’s 2019!

The HCGM is an organization with an extremely broad scope and mandate which serves the over 70,000 Greeks in the Greater Montreal area with 6 full time day schools, Saturday schools teaching French, English and Greek to 2,000 students. We have an operating budget of $17 million, 300 employees, over half of whom are teachers. We have 6 churches and provide Social Services, Culture, Athletics, Continuing Education to adults, to both Greeks and non-Greeks — we are open to everyone. We serve thousands of people every week, in Montreal, Laval and the South Shore, to a highly disbursed population, from cradle to grave: Literally.

Needless to say, the needs are great and we do much with limited resources and consequently run a small deficit every year. Whatever our Federal Government could do to support us would be greatly appreciated as this would allow us to do more good works for people. The biggest project that we envision is the “Laval Complex” where about a third of Greeks live and are under-served. I am aware that there have been several conversations with both Federal and Provincial government officials about this project.

My objective is to transform the culture of the organization and its reach. By that I mean, to bring in the 3rd and 4th generation of Greeks in Canada to our organization. This won’t be easy but I appreciate the challenge, as I always have in my professional life where I have always been successful in accomplishing these things. We want to do this in the spirit of openness and inclusiveness and my Board is fully committed to that.

As you know Prime Minister, we Greeks rightly believe that we established the basis of Western Civilization, and I must say that our Community fulfills these values and those of Canada to the utmost. Let’s remember that many of us gave the ultimate sacrifice in fighting for Canada in World Wars I and II, Korea, Peace Keeping around the world, and in Afghanistan.

I would like to thank you for being an excellent friend, supporter and always being present when your busy schedule allows. I was thrilled to see you bring all the Premiers for the official First Ministers’ dinner to Marvens Restaurant, where I used to volunteer as a kid with Mr. Marven behind the counter. My payment was free candy.