History of the Hellenic Orthodox Community
Immigrants from Greece began arriving in Saskatoon in the early 1920’s. A Hellenic (Greek) organization called the AHEPA was started in the United States of America and formed a chapter in Saskatoon in the late 1920’s. The AHEPA’s mandate was to aid immigrants from Greece in integrating in their new homes and to maintain the Greek culture and language in the United States and Canada. With the help of this organization and the Greek people in Saskatoon, a building was purchased on 20th Street named the AHEPA Hall in 1946. Individuals such as Sam and Cleo Girgulis and Lola and Peter Pontikes were instrumental in the early years in helping the young Greek individuals and families that had immigrated to Saskatoon. In 1963, a formal Greek Community was organized and its charter developed. Koimisis Tis Theotokou Hellenic (Greek) Community of Saskatoon celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2013.
The Greek Community has proudly participated in Saskatoon Folkfest since its inception in September of 1980. It has participated in every festival held in the 36 years of Folkfest. Mr. Ken Pontikes, a member of the Greek Community was the first president of Folkfest. He was instrumental in the establishment of Saskatoon Folkfest Incorporated. Other members of our community, Mr. Michael Kouros and Dr. Effie Kutsogiannis, have also held the position of president of the Folkfest Board of Directors, and Mr. John Antziletos as a board member. The Greek Pavilion has evolved over those 36 years. In 2008, it moved from its “home” at the Army and Navy Veterans’ Hall on 1st Avenue to Hall E in Prairieland Park. This move allowed the community to showcase and celebrate its long and vibrant history in a larger facility. The new Greek Pavilion allows one to take a staycation and have the Greek experience in Saskatoon. A Greek Village with displays that transcend from ancient Greece to modern Greece was built and allows Saskatoonians to experience Greece through food, dance, music and display.
The Greek Community also believes in giving back to the Saskatoon community, a community that has allowed the immigrants to find success. Since 1999 the Greek Community has annually partnered with a charitable organization to raise funds for the both the charitable organization and the Greek Community. This event started out as An Evening in Greece and has seen a few name changes to Oniro – The Greek Dream Gala, Ouzopalooza and Jim’s Ouzopalooza. The event is an evening of the Greek experience through food, atmosphere, entertainment and dance. Charitable organizations that have benefited through this event are Royal University Hospital Foundation, CHEP, Tamara’s House, Persephone Theatre, and most recently Saskatoon City Hospital – Pediatric Ophthalmology Department. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of dollars have benefited these charitable organizations. Most recently over $130,000.00 was raised for the Saskatoon City Hospital Pediatric Ophthalmology Department for the purchase of some crucial equipment required.
The Saskatoon Greek Community continues to strive in its vision of maintaining the Greek culture through Greek language school, Greek dance lessons and through the Greek Orthodox Church. With the economic climate changing in their homeland of Greece, the recent years have seen an increase of immigrants from Greece to Canada and Saskatoon. These individuals are being helped by the Greek community and individuals within the community to embrace Saskatoon and Canada and what it has to offer.
Thank you for your support! Opa!
Attendance at this pavilion is approximately 30,000 patrons over 3 days.