James Saunders to Receive UMD Lifetime Achievement Award

The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) is proud to announce James Saunders will receive the prestigious UMD Lifetime Achievement Award, in recognition for his significant role in furthering the Macedonian Cause. The Award will be presented at our annual Gala at St. Clement of Ohrid Macedonian Orthodox Cathedral, in Toronto, Canada, on October 27, 2012. 


“Mr. Saunders is truly a distinguished Canadian-Macedonian leader who has made a huge impact over seven decades, fighting for a free, independent, and sovereign Macedonia.  His dedication and passion is an inspiration, and he is truly a role model for Macedonian Diaspora activism,” said UMD President Metodija A. Koloski.


“By founding the United Macedonians of Canada, Mr. Saunders gave a voice to our people during an era when we could only dream of one day having an independent state of our own,” said UMD Canada Director Jim Daikos.  “He has been a pillar of our community for decades, and his pioneering efforts on behalf of Macedonian human rights will long be cherished and remembered.” 


The UMD Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes outstanding individuals who have made a vital impact on society-at-large in advancing the Macedonian Cause.  In recognition of his leadership, philanthropy and patriotism, the UMD Board of Directors unanimously selected James Saunders to be this year’s recipient of the Award. 


Past honorees include George Atanasoski, John L. N. Bitove, C.M., and the late Kiro Gligorov, the first President of Republic of Macedonia. Please click HERE to learn more about UMD’s Awards. 


UMD is proud to recognize James Saunders, an inspiration, a community leader, a proud husband, father and grandfather, a philanthropist, and a patriotic Macedonian.  


To become a sponsor or to purchase tickets for the Gala, please call Jim Daikos at (416) 209-0448 or Mark Branov at (647) 741-1919 or e-mail Canada@umdiaspora.org.  Tickets can be purchased by visiting http://www.canadahelps.org (type in “United Macedonian Diaspora” in the search field).  For more information on the Gala, click HERE.   


Proceeds raised from the Gala will benefit UMD’s charitable and educational programs, including our efforts in Aegean Macedonia, Greece.  




Biography of a Macedonian Patriot: James Saunders


In 1925, James Saunders was born in the village of Zhelevo, Aegean Macedonia, only 12 years after the territory was annexed by Greece for the first time in history, from the Ottoman Empire. His father Spero immigrated to Canada, and worked diligently to send money back to the ‘old country.’ In April of 1938, at the age of 13, James immigrated to Canada, along with his mother Sophia, brother Chris and sister Sally.


James Saunders is perhaps best known as a founding father the United Macedonians of Canada, a vital organization to the development of the Canadian-Macedonian community today, and an important pioneer in promoting and protecting Macedonian culture and human rights. He was elected as the first president of the United Macedonians of Canada, and served two terms, first from 1959 to 1966, and then again, from 1974 to 1975.


Saunders was also instrumental in bringing the Macedonian Orthodox Church to Canada. As President of United Macedonians, he invited the Holy Synod to come to Toronto, and attend Toronto’s famous United Macedonians Ilinden Picnic, which is still held every year on August 2nd. As usual, the picnic was a huge success, with thousands in attendance, and it gave the Macedonian community in Toronto a chance to demonstrate their support for a new church, with the Bishop and other dignitaries in attendance. 


This initiative sent a clear signal, and it would become the first step towards the dream of building a Macedonian Orthodox Cathedral in Canada. In October of 1962, the provincial government of Ontario granted a church charter, and St. Clement’s of Ohrid Cathedral was built two years later. James’ father Spero was the first elected president.


James Saunders is known as a passionate, devoted and trusted patriarch of the Canadian Macedonian Community. In 2008, he wrote an autobiography, “Times of My Life”, which also serves as a poignant and revealing history of Toronto’s Macedonian community from 1938 to present day. In this book, James appeals to the future generation of Macedonian activists: “Avoid division and avoid splits… our people were always split, our country was always split. Division doesn’t solve problems, it creates problems.”  


James Saunders has one son, two daughters, eight grandchildren, four great grandchildren, and thousands of fans and friends.  He and his wife Dorothy have been married 67 years, and they live in Toronto, Canada. 


Please visit: http://jamessaunderstimesofmylife.com 


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