On March 1, 2021, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Canada issued a statement to recognize and celebrate Hellenic Heritage Month.
This important annual initiative, led by the hard work and dedication of Ontario MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos, is an opportunity for Canadians of Hellenic descent to pay tribute to our Motherland Greece, as well as to highlight and honor Greek-Canadians who are benefactors of the Church in Canada, together with others who have left a legacy in our community.
There are thousands of people in the profound history of the Hellenic people in Canada who deserve mention. While developing a shortlist runs the risk of omitting individuals who should be included, the Archdiocese has selected these people as a sample to be honored for their individual contributions, and at the same time to represent all of the outstanding Greek-Canadians throughout history.
Greek people in Canada have, and continue, to meaningfully contribute to the social fabric, economic growth, and civil society from coast to coast to coast. From governance and justice to business and economics; from art, communication, and education, Greek-Canadians have left a permanent footprint in countless sectors of Canadian society.
As we commemorate 200 years of Greek Independence, let us join together to celebrate these individuals and to renew our commitment to Hellenic ideals and to our Orthodox faith so that we continuously grow, prosper, and contribute as Greek-Canadians to this wonderful and blessed country.
Afaganis, also known as “The Greek”, started covering the Edmonton Eskimos in 1953. He moved to CBC-TV in 1963 and until 1980 was the network’s host for their Western league. Afaganis handled a long list of other assignments, including several Olympic Games, earning several broadcasting awards along the way. He was inducted into the Football Reporters of Canada section of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and Museum in 1988.
Anthopoulos is a professional baseball executive, currently working as the general manager and president of baseball operations for the Atlanta Braves. Born in Montreal, Anthopoulos began as an unpaid intern for the Expos organization before successive promotions eventually led him to become the general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. He was named the Sporting News Executive of the Year in 2015.
Apostolopoulos was born in Kalamata, Greece, and emigrated to Canada in 1969. He started as a laborer and janitor, progressing to owning small service and manufacturing companies, eventually paving the way to commercial real estate investment and redevelopment. One of the most successful business people in Canada, he was the chairman of Triple Group of Companies, based in Toronto. His family continues his business successfully.
John Michael Christodoulou
Christodoulou is one of the greatest benefactors of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Canada. The founder of the Patriarchal Toronto Orthodox Theological Academy, Christodoulou also purchased the current Archdiocesan headquarters building in Toronto. A successful investor and businessman, Christodoulou would eventually become the major shareholder, President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of Guardian Capital. He was an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Born in Athens, Greece, Dimakopoulos came to Canada in the late 1940s and would go on to become an eminent Canadian architect of the twentieth century. The recipient of countless awards and distinctions, Dimakopoulos designed many notable buildings across Canada including the tallest building in Montreal.
Drombolis was a teacher by training who dedicated her life to the Orthodox faith and Christian principles. She was characterized by authentic selflessness and a benefactor to many organizations. She directly supported the activities and programming initiatives of the Church in Canada for many years.
Petros (Peter) A. Foustanellas
Foustanellas was a distinguished family man, business owner, philanthropist, and benefactor of the Church in Canada. He was the founder and owner of Argos Carpets Limited, Pegasus Developments Limited, Olympia Homes, and Merivale Bowling Centre. His tremendous support of The Ottawa Hospital led to the establishment of the Foustanellas Endocrine and Diabetes Centre. Foustanellas was an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Constantine (Cos) Georganas
Georganas emigrated from Greece to Canada in 1968, where he studied economics and finance and later became a Fellow of the Institute of Canadian Bankers. He had a distinguished career of over thirty years with the CIBC during which he held a variety of increasingly senior leadership and management positions with CIBC Corporate and Commercial Banking. Georganas was an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and benefactor of the Church in Canada.
Senator Leo Housakos was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2008. In 2014 he was elected Speaker pro tempore before being named Speaker of the Senate by Prime Minister Harper on May 4, 2015, with unanimous support from both the Government and Opposition Leaders in the Senate. Senator Housakos is an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Kapelos is a preeminent Canadian political journalist and currently the host of Power & Politics on CBC News Network. Before joining the CBC, she was the Ottawa bureau chief for Global News and the host of The West Block. Prior to working in Ottawa, Kapelos covered provincial politics in Alberta and Saskatchewan. She is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario and Dalhousie University.
Justice Andromache Karakatsanis was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in October 2011. Justice Karakatsanis has had a distinguished legal career and served in senior leadership positions in the public service, including as Ontario’s Secretary of the Cabinet and Clerk of the Executive Council. She is a graduate of the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law School.
Nick and Sofia Kogos
Mr. and Mrs. Kogos were residents of Vancouver, who built a replica of the Parthenon in West Vancouver and dedicated it to the local municipality. Both of them adhered to Christian principles and were great philanthropists, including benefactors of the Church in Canada.
Kolias is the co-founder of Boardwalk REIT and currently serves as its Chairman and CEO. His leadership and vision have propelled the company’s growth and success: since assuming his current role, Boardwalk’s market capitalization has increased from its $200 thousand IPO in 1994 to $2 billion today. Kolias has received numerous awards and is an active supporter of many Calgary-based organizations. He is an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Metropolitan Athenagoras (Kokkinakis)
Metropolitan Athenagoras of Elaia was the first resident Orthodox Christian bishop in Canada, serving in that position from 1960 to 1963. Metropolitan Athenagoras was an excellent scholar, professor, as well as the Dean of the Orthodox Theological School in Boston.
Spyros Demosthenes Loukidelis
Spyros Loukidelis was a first-generation Greek Canadian: in 1973, Loukidelis was appointed to the District Court of Ontario in Sudbury and by 1990 he was the Regional Senior Justice, Northeast Region, Ontario Court. In 1992, he was appointed Chancellor of Sudbury’s Thorneloe University, part of Laurentian University. Throughout his life Judge Loukidelis served the Church, including as an altar boy for many years; he was also an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Maniatis was a lawyer who emigrated from Greece to Canada and settled in St. John, New Brunswick. He had an unparalleled entrepreneurial spirit and served with great dedication the Greek Orthodox Community in New Brunswick for many years. Maniatis was an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Julius D. Metrakos
A member of the Order of Canada, Metrakos was a Professor of Human Genetics at McGill University and an eminent research scientist at the Montreal Children’s Hospital where in a thirty-year career he attained international recognition for his work in the area of neuro-genetics. He was also a great benefactor of the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal.
Missios was born in Romania, where he studied law before moving to France to further his education. He emigrated to Canada and became a distinguished entrepreneur and philanthropist. Missios is one of the greatest benefactors of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Canada and was an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Constantine George (Gus) Mitges
Mitges was the first Greek-Canadian Member of Parliament. A veterinarian by profession, he entered politics when he served as a school board member. In 1966, he was elected as an alderman in Owen Sound, where he served until his election to the House of Commons, where he served from 1972 to 1993.
Oreopoulos was a true pioneer in the study of medicine and, among countless accomplishments, founded the International Society of Geriatric Nephrology and Urology. He is considered one of the giants of nephrology and internationally renowned, having received numerous honorary degrees and awards, including the prestigious Belding Scribner Award and an award in Geriatric Nephrology from the American Society of Nephrology. Oreopoulos was a great benefactor of the Church and an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Phrixos B. Papachristidis
A member of the Order of Canada, Papachristidis, from very humble beginnings, became a shipping merchant and great philanthropist. He served the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal for more than three decades with great love and faith.
Petrovas is from British Columbia and has had a distinguished thirty-year career in the pharmaceutical industry. In 2003, he co-founded ICORE Healthcare, which provided innovative solutions and services to payers in the management of specialty drugs; ICORE was eventually acquired by Magellan Health. Petrovas also played professional football in the CFL for the BC Lions.
Ioannis Phokas (Juan de Fuca)
Juan de Fuca was born in 1536 on the Ionian island of Cephalonia and was a Greek maritime pilot in the service of the King of Spain. He is best known for his claim to have explored the Strait of Anián, now known as the Strait of Juan de Fuca, between Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula in northwestern Washington State.
Mike and Bertha Politis
Mike and Bertha Politis (Brother and Sister) are great benefactors of the Church in Canada. They exuded Christian humility and had great faith in God. In addition to their substantive financial support of the Archdiocese, they also supported a number of organizations and were great philanthropists.
Reppas is a great philanthropist, a supporter of the Archdiocese, and founder of the successful and ever-growing Greek Orthodox Day School in Ontario. The CEO of Achieva Health, she is passionate about and a major advocate for high-quality physiotherapy and rehab services. Reppas is a tireless promoter of Greek-Canadian organizations and is a Legacy Donor that helped develop the Hellenic Studies Program at the renowned Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto (a project of the Hellenic Heritage Foundation).
Fr. Nicholas Salamis
Fr. Nicholas was an orphan from Greece who came to Canada and educated himself at McGill University and at the University in Athens. He was ordained a Greek Orthodox Priest in 1938. He served the Greek Orthodox Parishes in Toronto and Montreal from 1938 to 1993. Fr. Nicholas was a saintly man who served the Church with dedication until his repose in the Lord at the age of 108.
Stavro was a successful businessman, grocery store owner through Knob Hill Farms, a thoroughbred racehorse owner and breeder, one-time owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, as well as a noted philanthropist. Stavro arranged for the use of the historic Maple Leaf Gardens during the 1998 visit of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, where more than 20,000 faithful attended the Divine Liturgy.
Stratas was born in Saskatoon and was the first Greek-Canadian woman elected as a Member of Parliament to the House of Commons. Among her many awards and achievements, she was appointed by Prime Minister Joe Clark to serve as Parliamentary Secretary to Minister Flora MacDonald, the Secretary of State of Canada.
Stratas sang the major soprano roles in the leading productions by the greatest opera companies at the most renowned opera houses in the world over a thirty-year career. Whether appearing as one of the most talented interpreters of the music of Strauss and Mozart, or as a strong exponent of twentieth-century music, she has never failed to win critical acclaim. Since her appointment to the Order of Canada in 1972, she has won many awards including the Governor General’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Performing Arts.
Tsampalieros was a great benefactor of the Church in Canada. A distinguished businessman and entrepreneur, he served in many executive positions including as CEO of Dinecorp Hospitality, which he co-founded in 1981; President and CEO of restaurant firm Cara Operations; and, chief executive of Second Cup Royalty Income Fund. Tsampalieros was an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Tsatas came to Canada from Greece as an orphan and became a great entrepreneur and philanthropist. For many years, Tsatas has generously donated his banquet facilities and covered all expenses for fundraising dinners for both the Patriarchal Toronto Orthodox Theological Academy and the Holy Monastery of Panagia Parigoritissa outside of Montreal. Tsatas is an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Canada