Diplomat wives - Mrs. Maria Yeganian, wife of the Armenian Ambassador to Canada -
Where were you before you came to Canada?
Before we were posted to Canada in June 2011, we were in Armenia four years, where Armen, my husband, was a Director for Americas Department. Before Armenia we were posted to Washington, DC twice, each time for three years and in Moscow for two years.
What is your background, education, profession?
I hold a Masters Degree in History of European Studies and a degree in music. Before coming to Canada I was teaching British Studies at the University.
What cultural adjustments did you have to make when you arrived?
Canada is such a welcoming country. The day after we arrived, we received a basket of flowers with the welcome note in it Canadians make us feel at home. The large dynamic Armenian community here in Canada keeps us busy, organizing cultural events at the Armenian schools and community centers. There are several Armenian churches in Montreal and Toronto, where the Easter and Christmas liturgies are conducted in Armenian.
How have you become involved in Canadian life?
From the beginning we decided to enroll our kids in the local catholic school, to be part of the Canadian life. As a parent I try to volunteer at school. Having a child in a local school give us the opportunity to meet local people and make friends. Supporting I work with the various relief agencies, such as: Armenian Relief Society of Canada that implements numerous projects for Children’s Hospital of Ottawa, Cancer Society of Canada, Heart and Stroke Foundation, which make me feel as part of Canada.
As a historian, I participate in the lectures of the History of Ottawa. I am also a member of Ottawa Garden Club and International Women’s Club. Through these organizations I met many Canadian artists and musicians. The Diplomatic Hospitality Group CFUW does wonderful job of introducing us to Ottawa. I am also a member of the Canadian Literature Club. It is delightful to find out so many interesting books about Canada and Canadians through talented writers from Sinclair Ross, Alice Munro, and others.
Do you have a specific function to perform for the Embassy?
I am hosting and organizing cultural events at the Embassy promoting Armenian culture. I am also bringing famous Armenian-Canadians from all over Canada to meet in Ottawa. Recently we invited Peter Ounjian, the conductor and musical Director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, it was a huge success. Every June 1st, on the occasion of Children’s Protection Day, I organize a musical competition for Armenian-Canadian children with celebrations and prizes. Christmas and Easter celebrations are also major events at the Embassy.
What is the role of women in politics and business?
Women have always played a major role in politics. I admire women who can be successful politicians, businesswomen and at the same time a mother, a wife. Everything should be in balance. Armenian women are actively involved in political life. In Armenia we have a female Vice Speaker and two Ministers; both very intelligent, strong leaders.
What do you like the most about the Canadian life?
Our Embassy is located right on the Canal with a beautiful view on the longest skating rink in the world in winter and precious tulips in spring time. To watch people on the streets skating, running, walking with friends and families make you feel happy and encourages you to love and protect nature. We are proud to have a heritage building in Ottawa as our Embassy.Every year we receive thousands of visitors during the Open Doors days. Canadians are so eager to learn about different cultures.
What you would like to tell to our readers?
Armenia was a first country in the world that formally adopted Christianity, is waiting to introduce you to the most ancient altars in the world. Some churches date back to the 4th century AD. The modern city of Yerevan never sleeps with open cafés, live music, and streets full of people going to concert halls and theatres. There is also our famous Armenian hospitality. The Embassy of the Republic of Armenia is part of the Doors Open Ottawa annual event. This year the Doors Open, a City of Ottawa event, will be held June 7-8. Please be my guest.
Ottawa Woman Magazine