Tony Bergmeier, Helene Schramek, Ernst Friedel (L to R)
Helene Schramek, Past-President, 2017
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to our 2016-2017 Annual General Meeting. I’d like to extend my sincere gratitude to all members who have given me the opportunity and honor of serving the Remembrance Society as their President for these many years – since December 2007. It has indeed been an extraordinary experience to lead this organization and to have met so many who care deeply, as I do, about the preservation and promotion of our common culture and heritage.
As a charitable organization, we rely on the generosity of donors and volunteers. A special thanks to those who have made financial contributions over the years – large or small, we appreciate your support. But I would like to mention specifically Helmut Oberlander and family and their continued generosity; the Schiller Foundation, Ernst Friedel and most recently – Deutscher Weltkongress which has recently ceased operation and donated to the Remembrance Society what remained in the accounts. As much as possible, we rely on our volunteers to keep costs down. These volunteers, our Board of Directors, I cannot thank enough for their time and hard work.
We will continue to support organizations such as the German Language School Concordia in their fundraising efforts and will continue to document, maintain and represent the legacy of German immigrants in Canada as well as support projects which help to remind German Canadians and Canadians at large of the significant contributions pioneers of German background have made over the last 300 years in Canada.
On October 11th, 2016 we worked together with the Arbeitsgemeinschaft under the leadership of Gerhard Griebenow, to organize German Pioneers Day in the Rotunda at Kitchener’s City Hall. The Transylvania Club, the Ahrens Family and the City of Waterloo were recognized for their contributions and achievements.
At the German Pioneers Day event held on October 13th, 2017, the Rumpel Family, Alpine Club and Joseph Mausser were recognized.
Guests were entertained prior to the official program start by the Transylvania Brass Band. Exhibits from various German Clubs and organizations were open to the public in the Rotunda prior to and during the event. Both events were well attended by local dignitaries and we received positive feedback from our guests.
In November (November 13, 2016 and November 19, 2017) we worked closely with the German Consulate in Toronto to organize Volkstrauertag, the German Day of Remembrance to honour the 187 German Soldiers of the 1st and 2nd World War who are buried in Woodland Cemetery German War Graves Section. As in the past, wreaths were placed by the Federal Republic of Germany, representatives of Federal, Provincial, Regional and Municipal Government; members of the Canadian Armed Forces as well as many representatives of German-Canadian clubs and organizations. Many thanks to both the Transylvania Brass Band and the Concordia Choirs for their musical contributions to the program. Also thanks to Rev. David Gallas (2016) and Capt. Gregory Lutz (2017) of the Canadian Armed Forces for their prayers and words at the ceremony. Special thanks to Ernst Friedel for his generous donation to the Remembrance Society to cover the cost of coffee and cake after the program – hosted in 2016 at the Alpine Club and this year at Hubertushaus. I would also be remiss in not thanking Gerhard Griebenow for his dedication in preparing for and acting as MC at this event for many years. As we have done in the past number of years, we have placed small evergreen wreaths at the soldiers’ graves – I’d like to thank those who have volunteered to help in the set-up of these wreaths despite the weather.
In closing, allow me again to emphasize my sincere appreciation to have had the opportunity to lead this organization – and the guidance and assistance I have received from members of this Board (present and in the past) and the many groups we work with throughout the year. But I believe that for any organization to thrive it is important to bring fresh ideas and new leadership to the helm. Even though I have decided not to run for office again, I know I am leaving this organization in the very good hands of my nominee for President – Werner Schlueter – and I will continue to be an enthusiastic supporter of the mandate and mission of the German-Canadian Remembrance Society.