“It’s touching and beautiful to see you learning a language that is a part of us. One can be Croatian even in the third or fourth generation and not know the Croatian language, but speaking and mastering it is a great thing,” said the President of Croatia, Zoran Milanović, to the students attending Croatian language classes at the “San Sebastian” Catholic elementary school in Mississauga.
President Milanović visited the school on the first day of his working visit to Canada, during which he will visit institutions that bring together Canadian Croats in the province of Ontario and meet the Croatian community.
He urged the students to continue learning the Croatian language and to try to pass it on to their children in the future.
“Language, some symbols of identity, these Croatian soccer jerseys that you wear, are recognisable worldwide, and our people are very proud of that because it represents quality and the results of hard work. In Croatia, we have our problems and our way of life that differs from Canada, but every Croatian is aware that there are many people in the world whose hearts beat for their homeland,” President Milanović said during his meeting with students of Croatian language classes and their teachers, who presented the tradition of teaching Croatian language in schools in Ontario.
President Milanović is on a working visit to Canada with his wife, Prof. Dr. Sanja Musić Milanović. After visiting the “San Sebastian” Catholic elementary school in Mississauga, he visited one of the significant Croatian parishes in Canada, the Croatian Franciscan Centre “Queen of Peace” in Norval.
Canada is home to a large Croatian community. According to data from the Canadian Institute of Statistics based on the 2021 census, there are 130,000 Croats who are Canadian citizens living in Canada. Only a smaller number, around 11,000, also hold Croatian citizenship. The majority of Croats and their descendants reside in the province of Ontario, mainly in the Toronto area and surrounding cities (Mississauga, Hamilton, Burlington, and Norval).
During his visit to the Croatian Franciscan Centre “Queen of Peace” in Norval, President Milanović met and talked with the Franciscans who lead the parish. They introduced him to the rich history and role of the Croatian Franciscan Centre “Queen of Peace,” which is one of the larger Croatian parishes, and its uniqueness lies in the accompanying activities that make it a true center for Croats.
President Milanović also met with Gregg Ruhl, the President of Algoma Central Corporation, in Burlington on Saturday. Algoma is a Canadian shipping company with a fleet of vessels intended for navigation in the Great Lakes area, and their fleet includes ships produced at the 3. Maj shipyard in Rijeka.
The meeting discussed business cooperation between the Canadian company and the Croatian shipbuilding industry, as Algoma is interested in building new ships at 3. Maj, which was confirmed during the meeting. The Rijeka shipyard is currently constructing and equipping a ship for Algoma as the client.