On November 16, 2006, at the prestigious Fairmont – Royal York in the heart of Toronto, a gala banquet was held in honor of Mike Zafirovski, one of our most successful executives in North America. Canadian Macedonian Place and the family of another famous Macedonian businessperson, John Bitove, organized the banquet.
Mr. Zafirovski was previously an executive member of the board at Motorola and is currently president and CEO of Nortel Inc. and serves on the board of directors of the Boeing Company
On the initiative of the most well known executives of Macedonian heritage, we had for the first time at one gathering the owners and representatives of some of the greatest companies in Canada. With Macedonian music playing Mr. Zafirovski entered the hall joined by his wife Robyn as well as his two sons and mother-in-law, Marilyn. The Macedonian and Canadian anthems followed.
Mr. Zafirovski was welcomed by speeches from members of the organizing committee, John Bitove Jr., Marilyn Trentos and Susan Nichovski. In his speech John Bitove Jr. mentioned our Macedonian history, beginning with the ancient Macedonian kingdom from the era of Alexander the Great. He touched on the partition of Macedonia and declared that he is very proud to be of Macedonian heritage.
A representative of the Royal Bank of Canada Financial Group, one of the main sponsors of the event, presented a cheque for one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The other donor companies were Air Canada, Bell Canada, Gucci, Hugo Boss Canada, Jaguar, Microsoft Canada, Molson, Fairmont Royal York, Tome (a well know designer of Macedonian heritage), Sony, Tiffany & Co, the Toronto Maple Leafs, Bitove Corp., and others. Rod Black was the MC for the night.
Simon Trpchevski, one of the finest pianists in the world, flew to Toronto especially for this gala on invitation by John Bitove. Mr. Trpchevski, who is also well known in North America, saluted the guests in English and stated how proud he is to represent Macedonia throughout the world and that it gives him great pleasure to play piano compositions based on enchanting Macedonian folklore.
A short documentary film depicting his life and career generated strong displays of emotion. Mr. Zafirovski remembered his childhood in Skopje, immigrating to the United States in 1969 and his early studies in English. With honor and respect, he talked about his wife, Robyn, and his three sons, two of whom were at the gala. His other son could not attend because he is at university. In addition, with a breaking voice, Mike mentioned his late parents and said he regrets they were not there with him because he knows how proud they would have been with his success.
“I would like young Macedonians to know about me, to be their role model, to believe that success is possible as I have believed in myself” said Mr. Zafirovski.
As a sign of respect Mr. Zafirovski was presented with a relief of Alexander the Great. The sculptor from Skopje, Slavko Spirovski, came to Toronto and personally presented him with the artwork, which was ordered by the Bitove family. A painting by the Macedonian artist Michael Close was also presented to Mr. Zafirovski.
John Bitove’s daughter, Vana, officially welcomed Mr. Zafirovski to the Macedonian community in Canada with a traditional ‘pogacha’ (sweet bread) — with which Mr. Bitove led the ‘oro’.
In attendance were the Honorable Dr. Sashko Nashev, Macedonian Ambassador to Canada, as well as the Consul General of Macedonia in Toronto, Mr. Slobodan Trajkovski, Consul Branko Trajkovski, the General Consul from Detroit, Jordan Veselinov and Canadian Minister of Parliament, Lubomir Temelkovski.
Celebratory letters were sent by The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, The Honourable Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario, His Worship David Miller, Mayor of Toronto and the President of Macedonia, The Honourable Branko Crvenkovski. All the letters were found in the brochure given to guests. The brochure included a short history of Macedonia from antiquity to the present day with a map of ancient Macedon as the first state in Europe formed by Philip II.
Mr. John Bitove stated that all funds collected at the gala — which totalled one million three hundred thousand dollars — will be directed toward scholarships for talented Macedonian students and the renovation and upkeep of Canadian Macedonian Place, a Macedonian seniors residence. Guests also received a CD gift by Macedonian concert pianist Simon Trpchevski.
Thursday, November 16th, 2006 was a proud day to be Macedonian!
(Translated into English by Vida Savino)
Written by Liljana Ristova
Editor-in-chief of Canadian Macedonian News
Views expressed on this page are not necessarily those of the United Macedonian Diaspora nor does their publishing on this website imply support from the United Macedonian Diaspora.