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An End-of-Year Open Letter from the Canadian Lithuanian Youth Association

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Greetings to all friends, family and supports of Canadian Lithuanian Youth Association!

We’re writing to update all of you near and dear to us, about what’s happened in the few months since our AGM held in late September of 2015, what the 2016 year has in store for us and would like to take this time to thank all of our supporters, from the bottom of our hearts!

CLYA’s 40th Annual General Meeting

In late September, CLYA held it’s 40th annual general meeting at the Camp Kretinga Grounds in Wasaga Beach, Ontario. With just shy of 60 people in attendance, we saw one of our highest turn-outs in almost a decade. We started our new term with a community event hosted at Resurrection Parish, where we partnered up with “Food Truck ‘n Friday” to raise funds for Youth Without Shelter.  A huge thank-you again, to Resurrection Parish who not only made this event possible for us, but for continuously supporting us; whether it be by way of offering space, publicity or a helping hand.

Also in September, CLYA Exec Members Elena Zubrickas, Joana Azubalis and Skaidra Puodziunas had the opportunity to participate in the Annual “Anapilis” Lithuanian Martyrs parish dinner. This evening featured music provided by the parish choir “Gintareliai”, a performance from Lithuanian folk dance group “Gintaras’s” senior female ensemble and a fantastic theatrical presentation directed by Daiva Botyrius. It was truly a stimulating, culture-filled evening. Thank-you to “Anapilis” Lithuanian Martyrs parish for bringing us all together.

Halloween at Bar “Lokys”

In late October we held our first event at “Lokys” Bar, in costume over a “Spook-tacular” Halloween celebration! With just shy of 100 people in attendance, it was a fantastic evening celebrated with old and new friends of various ages. A big thank-you to the Lithuanian Community and the Lithuanian Banquet Hall Board for opening up Bar “Lokys” to us time and time again. Shout out to Daiva Andriulis, Mykolas Kamaitis, and Aurelija Saplys for best costumes! Also, shout out to Raminta Petrauskas for providing the most accurate guess of just how many candy corns were stashed in our mason jar that circulated throughout the evening. As always, thank you to Ned Gudinskas and Andrius Parnavas for being the best bartenders in town!

CLYA celebrates Halloween at Bar "Lokys"

CLYA celebrates Halloween at Bar “Lokys”

Another annual event that current CLYA Exec Members Vida Naudziunas and Skaidra Puodziunas had the privilege of attending was the Annual Resurrection Parish dinner. With approximately 250 people in attendance, featuring Dalia Viskontas and Nijole Benotas’s X North American Song Festival Choir, the night was filled with music, friends and family! We especially enjoyed the Camp Kretinga tribute prepared by the talented Andy Kaknevicius. Thank you to Ms. Kobelskas and her wonderful team for preparing yet another delicious dinner! Also, a huge thank-you to Ft. Jonas- Jurgis Sileika for working with CLYA throughout the year.

Promoting the 11 Annual Toronto European Union Film Festival

Our next project following Halloween was promoting the 11th Annual Toronto European Union Film Festival (EUFF). A few CLYA Executive Members; Rimantas Kubilius, Edis Obeliunas, Joana Azubalis and Skaidra Puodziunas attended the Opening Gala of EUFF followed by the festival’s opening film; Alias Loner, the Latvian Consulate’s film-select. This screening was followed by a Q&A with the film’s director Normundas.  The film trailed the courageous journey of Antons Juhnevis, a rural Catholic priest who helped men escape Soviet Occupation in 1945 in his church. We certainly drew many parallels to Lithuanian history while watching the film.  A week later, CLYA also attended and promoted Lithuania’s Film-Select for the festival, entitled, “Saul and Paul Robbed Them All,” directed by Simonas Askelavicius and Ricardas Marcinkus. It was a great evening that united many generations of Lithuanians in and around the GTA. Afterwards, a small group of CLYA members gathered at the nearby Latvian Bar “No One Writes to The Colonel” to discuss the film and catch-up over some eastern European brews. Thanks to the Honorary Consulate General of Lithuania in Toronto, Paulius Kuras, for your involvement in the film festival. CLYA is pleased to have promoted such a fantastic free film festival that runs annually in Toronto. We’ll be sure to look out for 2016 dates!

Member of CLYA at the opening Gala of EUFF 2015.

Member of CLYA at the opening Gala of EUFF 2015.

Most recently, CLYA celebrated the Christmas and New Year’s Holidays a touch early with our just-about-annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party. On Friday December 4th, Bar “Lokys” was once again filled with youth of various ages, dressed in their ugliest Christmas sweaters for our Ugly Christmas Sweater Party. It was an evening that brought together our CLYA friends and even our Latvian and Ukranian friends. Shout out to John Dunphy who had the most incredible, hand-made sweater of the night!

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party festivities

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party festivities

What does CLYA have in store for 2016?

The upcoming 2016 year will be a busy year for CLYA. We are hoping to organize our Lithuanian Independence Basketball Tournament sometime in late January to early February; help promote and offer our help towards Toronto environs February 16th celebrations as they welcome Martynas Levickas the great accordionist towards the end of February; work with Maironis Lithuanian Saturday School to lead information session around February 16th; facilitate some kind of Winter Event which utilizes our Lithuania Park (Perhaps tobogganing!); run our second annual “Eurobash” in collaboration with the Latvian Youth sometime in April of 2016; and most importantly set a date and plan our CLYA 40th Gala Celebration!  Acknowledging that CLYA is an organization with a great deal of history and a lot of stakeholders, we welcome anyone who is interested in helping plan, brainstorm or simply share an idea or two regarding our upcoming 40th celebration.

While we will be busy planning events in 2016, especially our 40th Gala, another priority for us will be to continue strengthening our relationship with our Baltic Neighbors. CLYA Execs have already met with a new Latvian Youth Executive and are in the talks of collaborating on a joint art show featuring the work of talented Baltic Youth at the Annual Latvian Youth Association Art Festival, to be held in March of 2016.  We are also trying to run more events outside of Toronto, given we are a Canadian national organization. Current CLYA Exec Member Daniela Sablinskas took the initiative to run an informal pub night in Ottawa this past month. She hopes to do more of these in the new year! If you are a Lithuanian (or know of a Lithuanian/Baltic) student/youth that lives outside of Toronto and is trying to connect with an existing community, please shoot us a message.

Finally, we’d like to thank the Lithuanian Canadian Community, our friends at the Lithuanian Credit Unions, Litas Credit Union, Parama Credit Union, Resurrection Credit Union and Talka Credit Union, and every single person who has offered their time and support towards the Lithuanian Canadian Youth in 2015.

Here’s to 2016!

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Skaidra Puodziunas
KLJS 2015-16 President

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