On Thursday, October 17, 2019, the Macedonian Canadian Lawyers Association (MCLA) hosted a dinner at Trattoria Fieramosca in Toronto, attended by thirty Canadian lawyers of Macedonian heritage. Following an hour networking reception, all attendees introduced themselves, where in Macedonia their roots are from, as well as the mark they have made on Canadian society.
United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) President, Metodija A. Koloski was invited to speak before MCLA’s members about UMD’s global mission to build a more influential Macedonian community and harnessing the power of Diasporas to benefit the homeland. Dr. Aleksandra Fortier, UMD’s Dallas, Texas Chair and a recent 40 Under 40 Recipient joined Koloski for the event.
MCLA President Chris Paliare, who serves on the UMD Advisory Council and received the 2014 Global UMD Lifetime Achievement Award, opened the dinner and discussed the reason MCLA was formed including giving Macedonians a voice in the Canadian legal system and helping and mentoring law students as they expand in their legal careers. He praised UMD’s efforts over the past fifteen years not just in Washington, D.C. but also throughout the world.
Lou Strezos, who spearheaded the dinner, thanked the attendees, and expressed hope that MCLA will continue to grow in membership, and organize more member events in Toronto.
In his remarks, Koloski thanked the foresight and vision of Chris Paliare, Lou Strezos, Paul Stoyan, George Koroloff, George Vassos, and Jim Nikopoulos in establishing MCLA. “Hopefully MCLA will inspire similar groups to be created in Australia and the United States,” said Koloski.
Over the past five years of UMD’s Macedonian Diaspora 40 Under 40 List, UMD has recognized three members of MCLA: Jim Nikopoulos the first year, Peter Simeon the second year, and Alexander Karapancev this year. Koloski presented 40 under 40 awards to them and spoke to how they are an inspiration to other young lawyers. Nikopoulos, and Simeon, who was recognized as one of the top 25 lawyers in Canada, serve on the Macedonia 2025 Board. Karapancev is a Board Director of the charity Nova Generation, which provides scholarships and professional training programs for young Canadians.
Excerpts from Koloski’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
“UMD has been so grateful to be able to partner with MCLA in the past month to co-write an open letter to the New York Times in regards to their Athens Democracy Forum calling on the publication to acknowledge the human rights violations of Macedonians at the hands of the Greeks. UMD and MCLA share more than just a common heritage, our organizations are working tirelessly to promote the influence and standing of the Macedonian community.”
“Specifically in Canada, UMD has hosted 4 University conferences for young Macedonians, met with Canada’s Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, and Defense Minister, and led four human rights delegations to Parliament in Ottawa.
“It is so important and so encouraging to see that an organization like the Macedonian-Canadian Lawyers Association exists. To have an organization that promotes unity among Macedonian people in the professional sphere is invaluable. Your organization helps give Macedonians a greater say in the legal and political world.”
“The MCLA embodies what it means to be Macedonian: driven, compassionate, yet still rooted to our homeland. I, along with UMD, envision a united Macedonian diaspora that celebrates the differences in individuals and emphasizes the strength of the collective background we all share as Macedonians”