Slovakian ambassador enjoyed his visit to Manitoulin

Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes, left, intoduces Northeast Town Al MacNevin, centre to Slovak Republic Ambassador Vit Kosiak. The pair exchanged small gifts following the Haweater Weekend parade. photo by Michael Erskine

MANITOULIN—The Island had a very special visitor during the August long weekend this year. Slovak Republic ambassador Vit Kosiak made his first trip to Northern Ontario in the waning days of July and joined Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes for the Sunday, July 31 Haweater Weekend parade.

Ambassador Koziak said that he thoroughly enjoyed his time on Manitoulin Island, despite the whirlwind nature of his visit. “I loved it,” he said. “The Island is very beautiful, and the people have been very warm and welcoming.”

Following his jaunt along the parade route through the streets of Little Current, the ambassador met briefly with Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin and took in a tour of Canada’s only off-grid radio station with Craig and KT Timmermans before heading out to Bridal Veil Falls and then onto the Wiikwemkoong Cultural Festival.

Mayor MacNevin and the ambassador exchanged small gifts and chatted for a few minutes.

“It was really a great opportunity and pleasure to have the ambassador of Slovakia to Canada, Vit Koziak, come to this riding,” said Ms. Hughes. “He started off his tour by meeting with a few of the mayors along the Highway 11 corridor prior to attending events to mark the historical contributions of Slovak people who settled in Bradlo (10 kilometres outside of Hearst) over 90 years ago, as Hearst celebrates its Centennial.”

After the visit to Bradlo, Ms. Hughes enticed the ambassador to travel to Manitoulin. “Although I am not certain he knew what I was lining him up for when I suggested he include Manitoulin in his travel, he jumped at the chance at being able to visit the only off-grid radio station in Canada.”

That visit proved to be an eye-opener for the ambassador and may lead to some globetrotting for Mr. Timmermans in the future. “The ambassador got a better understanding of how KT and Craig Timmermans were able to realize this and how their initiative could be a model to businesses and homes in other countries who need to prioritize the transitioning off of fossil fuel reliance, especially given the Russian-Ukrainian war.”

Ambassador Vít spared little in his assessment of who was the culprit in that engagement. “For us, as a neighour of Ukraine and NATO, we are committed to international order,” he said, going on to note that Canada is very well respected globally. Russia, on the other hand, has engaged in “an unprovoked and unacceptable aggression. Slovakia is very much helping Ukraine and we are accepting Ukrainian refugees—some 600,000 people have come to us and 100,000 have asked and received international protection.”

The ambassador noted that there are 10,000 Ukrainian children attending schools in his country. “This is all free of charge,” he said. “We are providing health care, education, economic aid and financial aid, as well as helping to export Ukrainian grain. We will be there to assist with reconstruction of the country after the hostilities have ended.”

In addition, the ambassador stressed the need for military aid. “It is very important,” he said. “Per capita, we have contributed more to Ukraine than any other country. What Putin has done is absolutely unacceptable and we are absolutely on the same page as Canada.”

But on his visit to Manitoulin Island the ambassador was able to turn to more peaceable pursuits.

“It is obvious that he thoroughly enjoyed participating in the Haweater parade and the Wiikwemkoong Cultural Festival, and of course Bridal Veil Falls and the Billings Connection Trail did not disappoint,” said Ms. Hughes. “I wish to thank everyone who gave him such a warm welcome, including Mayor Al MacNevin and Ogimaa Duke Peltier.