To Home Page of Echoworld Communications
To Home Page of Echo Germanica
December 2010 - Nr. 12
The best of Seasons from Echo Germanica

On behalf of the Board of Directors I wish you a hearty welcome to the Concordia Club's 137th anniversary celebration this evening. I'm sure we can all agree that the fact that this Club is alive and well and going strong after 137 years is an excellent reason to celebrate! And I'm certain that if we all continue to work together and plan for the future, our members will in due course be celebrating the Concordia Club's 150th anniversary, and beyond!

As we enjoy this Club's success tonight, I'd like to take a moment to reflect on the many significant contributions that people of German heritage have made to this city, this region, this province and yes indeed this great country of ours. It swells my heart with pride that we can claim so many of these innovators and entrepreneurs as members of the Concordia Club. Not long ago we added ten books to our Club's archives at the University of Waterloo: books that told the stories of many of our successful Club members, from the hardships that they endured during and after the war, to the adventure and uncertainty of immigrating to Canada, and finally, to the lives they built in their new homeland, creating prosperity not only for their own families, but for our community as a whole. These inspiring individuals are our modern-day pioneers, some of whom have been honoured at past German Pioneers Day celebrations, and others, who will, I'm sure, be honoured in future celebrations. As you know German Pioneers Day is a day set aside to honour the contributions of German Canadians, and was created by the Conservative Government of Ontario with a Private Members bill sponsored by Wayne Wettlaufer, our Member of Provincial Parliament at the time. We can all be grateful for his efforts to increase public-awareness of the many positive contributions made by the German-Canadian community. Wayne, we thank you.

It seems that everyone remembers the years 1939 to 1945, but few people recall the great achievements that those of German heritage accomplished before and after that time. Through the German Canadian Congress and the German Canadian Remembrance Society, as well as German Pioneers Day, we hope to change this narrow perception by educating the public and correcting persistent falsehoods. Paul Tuerr recently wrote an excellent article in the Newspaper "Neue Welt" in which he pointed out that there are still two classes of Canadian citizens: those born here, and those who became Canadians by choice. We can proudly say, that people of German heritage have almost universally become productive citizens and have worked towards a better future. In addition, we have maintained our unique traditions that we now pass on to our children, and that also enrich the lives of our fellow Canadians. In fact, Kitchener-Waterloo is host to the largest Oktoberfest celebration outside of Germany. While every other festival launched in this region has failed, our K-W Oktoberfest is now 43 years old, and I am certain that with a few adjustments, it will continue to thrive well into the future.

While the Concordia Club is indeed the home of K-W's Oktoberfest, and we should never forget it, we must also remember that times are changing, and what we once could do we no longer can. There have been many new laws and regulations enacted in the last few years that have made it more difficult than ever before to stage a successful Oktoberfest at the Club. This means that we must also change the way we operate in order to meet all of the new legal requirements.

I understand that these changes are difficult for some of our members, but we simply have no choice — we must adapt if we want to survive. Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of our members have the foresight and determination to ensure that the Concordia Club will remain at the centre of our German heritage and culture for many more years to come.

Over the past nine years many positive changes have taken place, and I hope that these improvements will only lead to the betterment of the Concordia Club. As you are probably aware, I have decided not to seek re-election after my term expired. There is however just one more task that I promised to complete before I retire, that remains unfinished: legalizing the Concordia Farm in order to correct an oversight from many years ago After navigating through a maze of legal and environmental issues for the past ten years, I was so close to being able to stand before you tonight with this complicated problem finally resolved. Unfortunately, it was not to be: one last bit of legal work was not completed in time for submission to the Wilmot Township Council for them to pass the bylaw at third reading before the Election of a new Council on October the 25th. This will now have to wait until the New Year. But I am not one to break my promises, and with the recent changes to our bylaws, I will be allowed to remain on the Board as past President so that I can complete the legalization of the Farm without having to stand for re-election for the Presidency at our Annual Meeting.

Although I will see this final task through, it is time for me to pass the torch. Because you are all such wonderful people, I will truly miss being part of the Club's leadership, and I thank you for your strong support these past years. I wish the Club the very best in the future and I would like every one of you to give some thought as to the direction you would like the Club to go in the years to come. It is now up to you and your new President to lead the Concordia Club into the future and ensure that the Concordia Club remains the centre of German culture in Waterloo Region.

As we celebrate 137 years of the Concordia Club's history tonight, I would also like all of you to think about what an amazing accomplishment that really is. For 137 years we have been an important part of this community by sharing our best traits, such as our innovation, our work ethic, our skills, and our outstanding craftsmanship. We have never become a burden to our fellow citizens, nor did we ask this country to change for us. Instead, our members have built new subdivisions for housing, constructed factories that provided employment for thousands of people, and have made numerous positive contributions to our adopted country. As long as we continue to respect these traditions, future generations will thank us for the legacy of culture and prosperity that we leave behind. As proud as we are to be Canadians, we are and should be equally proud of our German heritage and never forget it. So enjoy the evening, be proud and let's celebrate!

Thank you


To the top of the page