President commences Canada & US visit, expressing delight in witnessing Croatian language acquisition among Canadian children

“It’s heartwarming and beautiful to witness your dedication in learning a language that is a part of our identity. Being Croatian goes beyond generations, and not knowing the Croatian language doesn’t diminish that, but speaking and mastering it is truly remarkable,” expressed Croatian President Zoran Milanović to the students attending Croatian language classes at the “San Sebastian” Catholic elementary school in Mississauga. President Milanović’s visit to the school marked the beginning of his working visit to Canada, during which he plans to visit institutions that unite Canadian Croats in the province of Ontario and engage with the Croatian community. He encouraged the students to persist in learning the Croatian language and emphasized the importance of passing it down to future generations.

“Language and symbols of identity, like the Croatian soccer jerseys you proudly wear, are recognized worldwide. Our people take immense pride in this distinction as it represents quality and the fruits of labor. While Croatia may differ from Canada in various aspects of our way of life, every Croatian understands that many individuals across the globe hold a deep love for their homeland,” President Milanović expressed during his meeting with the students of Croatian language classes and their teachers, who showcased the tradition of teaching Croatian language in Ontario schools.

Accompanied by his wife, Prof. Dr. Sanja Musić Milanović, President Milanović embarked on a working visit to Canada. After visiting the “San Sebastian” Catholic elementary school in Mississauga, the couple proceeded to the Croatian Franciscan Centre “Queen of Peace” in Norval, one of the notable Croatian parishes in Canada.

Canada is home to a substantial Croatian community, with the Canadian Institute of Statistics stating that there are 130,000 Croats who hold Canadian citizenship and reside in Canada, according to the 2021 census. A smaller fraction, approximately 11,000 individuals, also possess Croatian citizenship. The majority of Croats and their descendants primarily live in the province of Ontario, particularly in the Toronto area and its neighboring cities such as Mississauga, Hamilton, Burlington, and Norval.

During President Milanović’s visit to the Croatian Franciscan Centre “Queen of Peace” in Norval, he engaged in conversations with the Franciscans leading the parish. They provided insights into the center’s rich history and the significant role it plays among Croats. The center’s distinguishing feature lies in its diverse range of accompanying activities, making it a true hub for the Croatian community.

President Milanović also met with Gregg Ruhl, the President of Algoma Central Corporation, in Burlington on Saturday. Algoma, a Canadian shipping company specializing in navigation within the Great Lakes region, owns a fleet of vessels produced at the 3. Maj shipyard in Rijeka, Croatia.

During the meeting, discussions revolved around forging business collaborations between the Canadian company and the Croatian shipbuilding industry. Algoma expressed interest in constructing new ships at 3. Maj, a sentiment reaffirmed during the encounter. Currently, the Rijeka shipyard is in the process of constructing and equipping a ship for Algoma as their client.

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