Global Estonian Report: September 21 – 28

Statue commemorating the mass refugee flight of 1944 at Puise beach, Lääne County
Statue commemorating the mass refugee flight of 1944 at Puise beach, Lääne County Source: 1944. aasta suurpõgenemine / Mass Flight of 1944

A roundup of Estonian news and events taking place around the world from September 21-28.

Between 165,000 and 200,000 Estonians are estimated to live outside the country right now, making around 15-20 percent of the total number of Estonians. With many communities being found worldwide, both in English-speaking countries and beyond, ERR News, in conjunction with the Integration Foundation (Integratsiooni Sihtasutus), has launched a weekly Global Estonian Report, which will give a weekly window into Estonian communities and culture from around the globe.

Commemorating the Great Refugee Flight to the West

One of the main reasons there is such a large and widespread global Estonian community is a result of the great refugee flight to the west (Suur põgenemine) in 1944.

In the late summer and autumn of 1944 (peaking from September 19-23), when the Red Army was advancing, around 75,000-80,000 people fled from Estonia, and a total of nearly 300,000 people left the Baltic States. This year marks the 78th anniversary of those events. Many people used small boats to cross the Baltic Sea to Sweden and Finland. This is why the refugees became known as boat refugees (paadipõgenikud). Many people who left then never saw their homeland again.

People were convinced they were leaving temporarily, for a few months or years at the most. When it became obvious over time that there was no going back, people settled or went on to other countries across the world. The largest Estonian communities formed in Sweden, the U.S, Canada, the U.K. and Australia.

In these countries, Estonians formed various organizations of expatriate Estonians that focused on preserving Estonian culture and fighting for the restoration of Estonia's independence.

Let's support the preservation of the Estonian language together!

The "Donate speech" project invites all Estonian-speaking people to donate their speech, thereby contributing to the preservation of the Estonian language and the faster delivery of speech technology solutions to our everyday lives.

People who speak Estonian as their mother tongue, Estonian as a foreign language and people who speak different Estonian dialects are invited to donate their speech. Speech can be donated via a computer, smartphone or tablet.

Eesti Laul 2023 song contest now open for entries

Entries are now being accepted for this year's Eesti Laul, the annual song contest to choose the act that will represent Estonia at Eurovision. The final deadline for submissions to this year's Eesti Laul is October 20, with the latest season culminating with the announcement of the winner on February 11 next year.

Upcoming Events

Tartu College 50+2 anniversary (September 21-25, Toronto)

Delayed because of the pandemic, Tartu College in Toronto is finally celebrating its 50th anniversary with 5 days of programming. For over 50 years, Tartu College in downtown Toronto has been a focal point and meeting place for the Estonian community in Canada and beyond.

Language Roulette: virtual conversations (September 27, online)

Language Roulette invites you to practise Estonian! We meet virtually on Zoom in the format of short conversations. We chat in Estonian for a limited time in a random group. The topics will be clarified at the meeting. A positive and free atmosphere is guaranteed. Organized by the Integration Foundation.

What is Global Estonian?

Global Estonian is an online portal, in Estonian and English, and network for Estonians and friends of Estonians around the world.

Managed by the Integration Foundation, Global Estonian brings together news, events, culture, organizations, support programs, learning opportunities, and a wealth of other information from Estonian communities abroad, all in one central gateway.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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