History

A look into the past….

Activity related to old country politics appeared again in the mid-1960s, as democratic movements were emerging in Greece against the monarchy and American influence. In 1965, when King Constantine dismissed Prime Minister George Papandreou, a large political rally in Montreal denounced his actions. The response of Greek Canadians to the right-wing dictatorship of 1967– 74 was mixed. Liberals, many of them university students, were among the first to express their opposition, and anti-junta organizations were formed immediately, including the Panhellenic Democratic Association (Makrygianis) in Montreal and Rigas Ferreos in Toronto. In 1968 the Panhellenic Liberation Movement (PAK) was organized in Toronto and directed by Andreas Papandreou, then a visiting professor at York University, as a vehicle for bringing permanent structural changes in Greek society. Such organizations attempted to inform Greek Canadians, and Canadians in general, about the oppressive nature of the dictatorship through lectures, formal demonstrations, newsletters, and the mass media, and they collected money to support the families of political prisoners in Greece.

[Many people believe that the HSA’s in Toronto gain their momentum from these demonstration and support for the suppressed people of Greece]

Most parish leaders were supportive of the dictatorship because of the traditional association of the church with right-wing politics and the dictators’ claim that they would establish a “Greece of Christian Greeks.”

The military coup d’état in Cyprus of July 1974, which overthrew President Makarios, shocked Greek Canadians. Most organizations, including the Cypriot-Canadian community, demonstrated against this takeover. The Turkish invasion of Cyprus a few days later united Greek Canadians of all political convictions in massive anti-Turkish demonstrations in many Canadian cities. After the fall of the Greek dictators in November 1974, open hostilities between pro- and anti-junta elements in Canada subsided.

With the return home of Andreas Papandreou, committees of his Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) arose in Montreal, Toronto, and London to link Greece and the Greek communities in Canada. Between 1978 and 1988 local PASOK committees arranged visits by more than twenty-five PASOK members of the Greek parliament. In 1981 Papandreou’s PASOK government established a Ministry of State for Greeks Abroad to focus on the Greeks of North America through visits of artists, exchange youth programs, and academic representatives to advise Greek schools on Greek-language programs.

More specific details coming soon…

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