2012 Danish Canadian Conference in Toronto

The 2012 national Danish Canadian Conference was officially opened at a reception in the Novotel North York Hotel in Toronto on Thursday evening May 24th. The Conference Theme was Vikings in Canada 2012. The host of the Conference was the Danish Lutheran Church in Toronto. President of the Church Council, Sune Overgaard, as well as Co-Chair of the Organizing Committee, Liselotte Ostergaard, bid all the participants welcome. Rolf Christensen, President of the Danish Federation, and Steve Morck, President of the National Museum, were also asked to say a few words of welcome. At the reception entertainment was provided by the talented Church Choir, followed by a sing-along with Knud Westergaard on the piano.

Friday morning the Danish Canadian National Museum held its Annual General Meeting. A comprehensive Annual Report had been prepared for the meeting, which was led by President Steve Morck. The luncheon speaker was James Jensen, curator at the Waterloo Region Museum, who spoke about his museum and the fact that they had deliberately avoided the word history in their name, despite the reality that their museum is about the region’s history.

In the afternoon four workshops were held, focussing on the future of the Danish Federation, the Danish government looking into allowing Dual Citizenship, as well as two workshops focussing on the Danish Canadian National Museum.

Dinner Friday evening was held in the Madsen Greenhouses in Newmarket. A bus took the participants to the Madsen Greenhouses, which are also used for weddings and other events. With all the flowers and lights the decorated greenhouses reminded the delegates of the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. Entertainment was provided by the Church Choir, the Danish Folk Dancers of Toronto and by ballet dancer Joy Kidston. A tombola, silent auction, gift shop, sponsorships and lotteries raised money for the National Museum.

The Danish Federation’s Annual General Meeting was held Saturday morning at the Novotel. It was chaired by Solvejg Nielsen, President of the Pacific Region. The Financial Statement showed a modest surplus. The Annual Report had been printed in the 2012 Heritage Book. Membership in the Danish Federation remained at 42 member organizations. President Rolf Christensen and Vice-President Ole Larsen were re-elected. Secretary Ella Wolder wanted to step down after serving in that position for eight years. Elected new Secretary was Aase Christensen of Guelph. Treasurer Bendix Andersen also wanted to step down. Elected new Treasurer was Sune Overgaard of Toronto. Reappointed Auditor was Erik Hogh. The President welcomed the new board members and thanked Ella and Bendix for their work and dedication. The President also thanked Svend Berg, the editor of the 2012 Heritage Book, for a beautiful book, and one of the largest to date. Following the Annual General Meeting a group photo of all the participants was taken.

Mrs. Lene Søndergaard Maclean was the key-note speaker at the Saturday Luncheon. In an inspiring speech she spoke about the Vikings and the Vikings coming to Canada, thus addressing the Conference theme.

Saturday evening a festive banquet was held in the Novotel’s Gibson Room. The tables were beautifully decorated and a band stand and dance floor had been set up. After dinner Magnus Martensson, a Swedish comic from New York entertained by telling jokes and playing the piano – reminiscent of Victor Borge. He was a big hit. This was followed by Lancier dancing by the Danish Folk Dancers. Later the participants could dance to the Par 3 Band.

Sunday started with a Church Service, conducted by Pastor Elisabeth Arendt, in the Danish Lutheran Church of Toronto on Finch Avenue. Afterwards delicious Danish open-face sandwiches were served – with Faxe Beer, donated by Ole Larsen of Montreal. After lunch Liselotte Ostergaard presented “Through the Ages” on stage – a celebration of Danes who came and contributed to Canada. It ended with the “Viking” youth of today singing for the 120 luncheon participants.

A big thank you to the Danish Lutheran Church of Toronto for a successful Conference, particularly to Sune Overgaard, Liselotte Ostergaard, Eva Terp and the rest of the  busy organizing committee, as well as the many volunteers and sponsors. While serious business was conducted during the meetings, the breaks, meals, socializing and entertainment were truly enjoyable as well as memorable.

The presentation of the Fane and Mailbox to the Danish Social Club of Victoria concluded the Conference. Solvejg Nielsen, standing in for Bendix Andersen, President of the Danish Social Club of Victoria, accepted the Fane and Mailbox as well as a Viking Banner, made by the children in the Toronto congregation. The Banner will in future be passed on to the next conference host. The closing ceremony ran well over time, which clearly revealed the great fellowship among the Conference participants. There was much to talk about, before saying goodbye and “see you next year in Victoria!”

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