Πέμπτη, 6 Ιουνίου 2019

When Rob Married Angele…

A Fabulous Wedding!

Justine Frangouli-Argyris

With a fabulous ceremony at Old Montreal’s Hotel Nelligan, CTV journalist Rob Lurie and his beautiful bride Angele Dostie joined their lives forever. Rob entered the room beaming, dressed in a crisp blue suit, overjoyed that the big day had finally arrived. He was followed by his groomsmen, sharply attired in gray, standing by his side, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the bride.

While the live orchestra played contemporary tunes, the room was abuzz with chatter on how the “eternal bachelor” finally decided to throw in the towel, succumbing to the bonds of marriage.

The next to enter were the bridesmaids, adorned in beautiful, airy silver dresses. And again, everyone impatiently waited and waited until, at last, a radiant Angele appeared, clutching her lovely children with both hands. Emotions were overflowing, tears streaming down the cheeks of the guests.

She was stunning, her eyes shining like a mirror lake, her gown of lace reminiscent of old photographs of another era. She was resplendent, gushing with joy.

Rob's former professor and mentor at Concordia performed the official duties, recounting how it came to be that the groom decided to cast aside his celibacy and wed his sweetheart. After the exchange of the rings, Rob stomped on a glass, loudly crushing with his right foot in keeping with the storied Jewish tradition.

The reception that followed at the Nelligan was elegant and chic,replete with delicacies for all tastes, from a variety of cuisines, and with wonderful music, primarily from the 80's when disco was the rage.

Rob, in his well-known comedic style, but, at times, also in a more serious tone, spoke about his love for Angele and about the family he dreamed of having and that he could now have given with Angele’s two lovely children.

We danced to the end, Rob and Angele were up in the chairs according to the Jewish tradition. The waiters were sipping champagne to the newlyweds’ health. And it was said that Suzanne, Mutsumi, Aphrodite, Eleni, Jeff and Ted, throughout the revelry, came to the conclusion that happiness is just a decision one must make when the right time arises!

Rob and Angele, we wish you to live happily together forever!

Παρασκευή, 31 Μαΐου 2019

The Hellenic Initiative Canada, a hopeful project!

A most successful event was organized by the Hellenic Initiative Canada under the leadership of Anna Antonopoulos (member of the Antonopoulos group) as well as other professional young Greek Canadians from the new generation at the fabulous William Grey hotel in Montreal.
The guest speaker was Dr. Hara Tziouvara ,Pediatrician –Neonatologist, President of "Doctors of the World Greece" who described the ten year economic crisis consequences to the young Greek generation and their massive immigration to other countries for a better life. 
The event was presented by the tv hostess Joanne Vrakas.
The Hellenic Initiative Canada proclaims:
Investing in the future of Greece through direct philanthropy.
We empower people to provide direct crisis relief.
We are the Hellenic Initiative Canada (THI-C) - a part of The Hellenic Initiative (THI) global movement of the Greek Diaspora!

Δευτέρα, 13 Μαΐου 2019

“Elpidoforos,” the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Final Hope for the Archdiocese of America

With his Eminence Elpidoforos, the newly elect Archbishop of America  in the premises of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 2010 when he was serving as the Chief Secretary to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

Elpidoforos Lambriniadis, a distinguished member of the patriarchal family of the Phanar, was unanimously elected to the ecclesiastical throne of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America May 11 2019, carving a new day in the relations of the Patriarchate with its more powerful Province.

The selection of the Metropolitan of Bursa by Patriarch Bartholomew demonstrates that the need to strengthen the bonds of the Ecumenical Patriarchate with its Church in America was above any other consideration when it came to which candidate would inhabit the Archdiocese’s mansion on Manhattan’s 79th street.

In the days previous, circles in America feared that the election of the aforementioned, Turkish-born, abbot of the Monastery of Holy Trinity in Halki could negatively impact the already tense relationship of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s strongman, Rev. Fr. Alex Karloutsos, with the Turkish government given the longstanding Gulen affair. However, it appears that the pressing need of the reunification of the Greek-American diaspora with its Mother Church in Constantinople prevailed.

Indeed, the Metropolitan of Brousa, Lambriniadis, equipped with brilliant theological studies from Thessaloniki and Bonn and with his multilingualism (given his fluency in Turkish, Greek, English, German and Arabic) may be the last opportunity of the Ecumenical Throne to solidify its relationship with the Church of America. Since 2011, he has held the position of associate professor of Theology at the Theological School of the University of Thessaloniki, specializing in inter-Orthodox and inter-Christian relations and demonstrating his passion for teaching.

Very polite and approachable, the former Metropolitan of Bursa enjoys a very close relationship with Patriarch Bartholomew for whom he served as Chief Secretary for many years. The upgrading of the Theological School of Halki under his direction is proof of his administrative capabilities and the re-opening of this storied institution will be a major topic on his agenda upon his arrival in America.

The newly appointed Archbishop is not simply an ecclesiastical man who has rested on the laurels of his academic success. On the contrary, versatile and brilliant, he has made a point of cultivating his relations with the major powerbrokers of the Greek-American diaspora that he originally developed during his six month sabbatical at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline in 2004. At the same time, he has been reaching out to the priesthood in America, tightening his contacts with key individuals in its ecclesiastical hierarchy.

The election of Metropolitan Elpidoforos as Archbishop of America sends a strong message from Patriarch Bartholomew to both friends and doubters and indicates that:

1) he did not succumb to the pressures of certain “insiders” who desired to see the appointment of an American born leader who could become subservient to the few;

2) he had been preparing his own leader for the Church of America for quite some time;

3) he fully understands that the potentially devastating voices of “autocephalism” must be nipped in the bud;

4) the Phanar must have direct contact with the leader of its largest and strongest Province of the Throne without the intermediation of vested third parties.

On the other hand, newly elected Archbishop Elpidoforos has many outstanding issues to settle which must be undertaken immediately including:

1) the raising of 40 million dollars required for the completion of Saint Nicholas National Shrine at the World Trade Center with New York Mayor de Blasio strongly pressing for its inauguration before the end of his term;

2) the creation of a climate of peace between the pro and anti-patriarchal factions in America;

3) the economic and theological consolidation of Holy Cross College as the institution finds itself on the verge of being forced to cease operations;

4) the fomenting of the Patriarchate’s bilateral relations with Washington in its quest to bring about the re-opening of the theological school of Halki.

At the same time, the newly elected Archbishop of America will have an opportunity to promote the vital issues of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem which is in danger of having its properties expropriated by the newly re-elected conservative Government of Israel.

In all these endeavours, his Eminence Elpidoforos will be assisted by the powerful priest Fr. Alex Karloutsos, who enjoys a tremendously close relationship with all the political circles in Washington, in Athens and in Constantinople.

Many challenges, yes, but many attributes as well, for our new American Archbishop. Worthy, or “Axios,” is Elpidoforos from Constantinople!

Τρίτη, 23 Απριλίου 2019

All 7 Were Fabulous!

Justine Frangouli-Argyris

In support of the “Dovee Project” for the early diagnosis of ovarian and endometrial cancers, a glamorous fashion show featuring designers from Greece was held in Palace Reception Halls Laval by the Lyceum of Greek Women of Montreal (LGWM).

The main speaker of the event was Dr. Lucy Gilbert, who, with her research team at McGill's Glen University Hospital (MUHC), is attempting to develop a smear test to diagnose endometrial and ovarian cancer cells in their precancerous stage, before they turn deadly. As she noted, ovarian cancer, known as a "silent killer," is usually diagnosed at an advanced state, requiring aggressive treatments for patients and frequently resulting in the loss of human life.

The official guest of the event was Orsalia Parthenis, of the historic  brand “Parthenis," who showed parts of her summer collection emphasizing silk and cotton sets designed by David Dowton, an internationally renowned fashion artist. Parthenis’s clothes brought the breeze of the Greek islands to Montreal, a city still dealing with the remnants of a long winter.

The newly emerging young Greek designer, Eva Soulakou, presented her collection of "BlueBlue" beachwear. These modern young swimwear  draw inspiration from Greece’s turquoise seas and landscapes.

Some fur pieces from Starlight Furs completed the Blue Blue Beachwear giving the swimsuits a sexy Canadian flavor!

The event “Greek Designers for the Dovee Project” was undertaken by the LGWM in its ongoing efforts to promote Canadian initiatives while showcasing the modern Greek fashion scene.

The highlight of the event was the catwalk of the “Fabulous 7,” seven distinguished Montreal Greek Canadian who managed to beat cancer despite an often tortuous ordeal. Dressed in Orsalia Parthenis’ garments that were specifically chosen for each one of them, strutting on the runaway, handsome, dynamic and sending the message that even if a part of the female body, be it the womb or the chest, is missing, femininity remains an integral part of their existence.

All seven were admired for their courage and proud demonstration of their victorious existence. Corporate lawyer, Aikaterina Tsimperis, English teacher, Christina Ozarapoglou, Greece’s representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization, Elpida Koryfidou, philanthropist, Yula Kiskira, Greek teacher and medical employee, Amalia Markakis, retired Greek teacher, Evangelia Tsalkidou, and young kindergarten teacher, Melina Tsagaropoulos. Melina, aged 30, faced her ovarian cancer bravely, struggling tooth and nail for her life, but also for her welfare.

Tears flooded the eyes of the audience when the seven women joined hands, lifting them upwards like "Caryatids," while music reminiscent of the shores of Greece played on in the background.

It should be noted that the Consul-General of Greece to Montreal, the Honorable Michael Gavriilidis, stressed the importance of the Dovee project for the detection of ovarian and endometrial cancers and congratulated the LGWM for its initiative to financially support this groundbreaking research.

The event was hosted by the award-winning Canadian (CTV) television reporter, Rob Lurie, while the main sponsor was Air Canada, enhancing the prestige of the endeavor. Many other corporations provided financial assistance for the undertaking as well.

The LGWM was able to introduce Greek fashion to Montreal at an event to prevent women's cancers that will be etched indelibly in the memory of those of Hellenic and non-Hellenic origin who attended this historic event at the Palace Congress Center in Laval.

The music for the event, which raised upwards of $10,000.00, was arranged by the prominent Greek music director, Pantelis Gkoudis.


Organizing Committee
Co Chairs: Athena Kyriakou, Dimitra Argyropoulos
Peggy Vrettis
Elizabeth Scoufaras
Tina Kalogrias

This publication is sponsored by Vicky Georgiadou and Nancy Zentefis from Charisma Real estate

Τετάρτη, 27 Μαρτίου 2019

The Lyceum of Greek Women of Montreal Puts Collaborates With The DOvEE Project!

For Immediate Release

The Lyceum of Greek Women of Montreal Puts Collaborates With

The DOvEE Project!

Montreal, March 10, 2019 – Montreal’s Lyceum of Greek Women (LGWM) is collaborating with the DOvEE project of the Women’s Health Research Unit’s Ovarian Cancer Diagnostic Centre (MUHC) to support preventive care in women's health.

On April 16th, at the Palace Reception Hall the LGWM will orchestrate a one-of-a-kind fashion show, hosted by CTV News Reporter Rob Lurie. All profits from this event will go towards women’s cancer research and Dr. Lucy Gilbert, head of the DOvEE project, will be a keynote speaker.

The fashion show will feature the clothes of the world-renowned Greek designer, Orsalia Parthenis, who will travel from Greece to present her Spring and Fall collections of clothing and accessories. Orsalia Parthenis' pieces are known for their geometrical and symmetrical lines, inspired by ancient Greek clothing. Models from NewWave Agency along with cancer survivors will be strutting the runway.

“I am very happy to participate in this fashion show. Women’s cancer prevention and treatment is something I hold very close to my heart. I also think that this event will be a great opportunity to create awareness for Parthenis, a historic Greek fashion house, and to show the Montreal community the level of creativity and quality that the Greek fashion industry offers”, says Orsalia Parthenis.

The show will also feature the famous BlueBlue swimsuits of young Greek designer, Eva Soulakou, who incorporates themes from Greek symbols in her designs and selection of fabrics. Blue-Blue swimsuits are inspired by the Greek seas and beaches.

About the Lyceum Club of Greek Women:

The Lyceum Club of Greek Women was founded in 1911 by the pioneer of the Greek feminist movement Kalliroi Parren, who through her militant literature, through the pages of the Newspaper of the Ladies gave her own battle against the illiteracy of Greek women. She founded Sunday schools, evening schools and training schools through which she supported Greek women’s rights to education and work. Today, the Lyceum  of Greek Women preserves its dynamic presence, fights for the promotion of Greek tradition as well as volunteering in an attempt to connect its long experience in social activity and the management of cultural heritage with scientific knowledge. It organizes lessons of traditional dances, percussion, choir, painting, Greek language for Greek women who live abroad or foreign women who live and work in Greece.

About the DOvEE Project:

The DOvEE project is a specialized clinical study for early diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Since 2008, eligible women have been invited for specialized medical tests to diagnose ovarian cancer as early as possible. In this way, diagnosis improves the chances of survival and decreases invasive treatments.

For information, kindly contact LGWM President, Justine Frangouli-Argyris, at ifrangouli@yahoo.com or LGWM secretary, Dimitra Argyropoulos, at lyceumtl@gmail.com.

Τρίτη, 6 Νοεμβρίου 2018

The Canadian and Quebec Medical System is Suffering Heavily ..

(Me waiting at the General Hospital wrapped up in a blanket)

It was a rainy morning on November 1st when I awoke at the crack of dawn for my laparoscopic cholecystectomy at the McGill University Hospital Centre’s (MUHC) General Hospital of Montreal. I was told to arrive at 7:30 am.sharp in order to be prepped for my surgery that was scheduled for 9:30 am.

My case could have been an easy one were it a simple bout of discomfort, but, unfortunately, a major attack in May showed that I had a gallbladder full of sand with an imminent risk of complications. As such, my amazing surgeon, tried to fix a date for my surgery in the two months prior to my departure for Greece in July but to no avail. She warned me that if I had another attack during my three-month absence, I would have to undergo the procedure in Greece.

Luckily, although my summer was replete with discomfort and crises of indigestion, the episodes were not so severe as to require emergency surgery. 

My doctor’s secretary contacted us in early September and, after much discussion, I was finally given an appointment for my cholecystectomy for November 1st, a full five months after my initial gallbladder attack.

Unfortunately, the secretary called again, on the day before my surgery, to tell me that the procedure had been postponed to November 12th. I objected, explaining that the discomfort in my abdomen had become unbearable with severe episodes of indigestion and pain, not to mention the ever-present danger of me developing pancreatitis.

So, there I was, at 7:30a.m., that Thursday, November 1st, at the Montreal General. And there I waited. As the hours passed, the staff would come to inform me, every now and again, that: 

1.   my doctor's team had been rushed into cranial surgery; 

2.   the Montreal General Hospital is a first response trauma centre and, as such, planned operations are often postponed;  

3.   that after two emergency procedures for surgeon, my turn would come.  

Patiently, and without a frenzy, I waited and waited, constantly being told that my surgery would take place. The time had reached 5:00p.m. and, knowing that “planned” surgeries ended at 2.30, I began to worry whether I would ever survive the system, given that my doctor had told me about the danger of any further delay. 

In the end, as a result of my physician’s  insistence, the surgery was finally performed at 6p.m., a full 9 hours late. Thanks to her professionalism, she managed to overcome a dysfunctional system that could have ended in tragedy.

There, in the anteroom, waiting for a surgery that was constantly in doubt, I realized that the country in which I have lived over the past 30 years, and especially the province of Quebec, has allowed its health system to deteriorate dangerously. I was told that the cutbacks made by Prime Minister Philip Couillard's outgoing government were devastating the operations of the MUHC, with others noting that orders had been given to refrain from administering all but urgently needed medical tests to the elderly in order to save 150 million dollars. 
The cuts were deep, I was told, as well, at the new Mega Hospital that houses the former Royal Victoria Hospital, the Children's Hospital and the General Hospital of Montreal. Nurses are in short supply and underpaid, making for much, long overtime and forcing them to leave the service prematurely.

The Children's Hospital emergency ward is forced to operate with a single pediatrician through its overnight hours. Parents are desperate, dealing with a system that puts their children's lives at risk. The First Aid Clinic at the brand new Glen functions with a minimal medical and hospital staff, forcing people to wait for endless hours to cope with urgent medical problems.

Personally, I was hit by the cuts. In pre-operative testing, the attending physician decided against doing a blood test on the basis of other good blood tests I had undergone in October of 2017, risking, of course, any possible consequences. At the same time, I experienced the cuts at the Montreal General Hospital where I saw many planned surgeries being postponed. In order to procede, my doctor was forced to treat me as a high danger incident since I had been waiting for months with the attacks increasing in their persistence.

According to medical specialist, who, although reluctant, eventually left the MUHC to work in the US, “the staff follow the rules, they can not perform surgery without the necessary personnel, without an anesthesiologist. Unfortunately, McGill has limited the number of doctors who can work full shifts in its clinics and in surgery. Τhe Staff follow the Rules, they can not just open another operating room without proper staffing.” 

He goes on explaining : “this was probably a result of a lack of anesthesiologist availability as the government limits the number of full-time staff McGill can employ as a way of controlling the number of procedures being performed.”

Furthermore, other sources noted: "when the majority of the resources are used to pay the medical specialists and the wages of its nurses are frozen, the hospital system is in a stalemate. We pay taxes to fund a medical system that does not reward patients properly."

The medical network of Quebec and Canada is, unfortunately, often reminiscent of what one would expect to find in the third world. People wait endlessly for appointments with specialists, procedures are not performed because there is no staff and surgeons scramble unsuccessfully to find nurses and anesthesiologists that are unavailable.

It is a system that is severely ill and in urgent need of surgery to repair its political and functional deficiencies!

PS. I would like to ask my readers to share their stories with the medical system long waits so se can show the governments where they stand re the medical system...

Τετάρτη, 31 Οκτωβρίου 2018

Maria by Callas, a Legendary Diva in Lefkada!

Justine Frangouli-Argyris

Yesterday I watched the movie Maria by Callas directed by Tom Volf who presented the legendary diva in a multiform project allowing the viewer to discover the woman behind the legend, intimate and unseen.

I was sad to see that she fought so much with the bad publicity about her annulation of several performances, since she knew she was loosing her voice. Her failed love affair with Aristo Onassis was the icing of the cake in a life full of success and great disappointments.

As I was watching the said film, I saw many scenes from Onassis and Maria cruising  with CHRISTINA the waters of Scorpios, his private island which lies right in the the archipelagos of Lefkada.

I stayed still when I watched her priceless performance in the humble stage of Lefkada’s International Festival in 1964 where she was accompanied by the young piano student Kyriakos Sfetsas. I felt so proud that I witnessed those unique moments of the great diva who confessed that this was her first effort to start singing again in front of the public.

 Here is my take on that memory….

 Maria Callas, My Diva!


My homeland of Lefkada, in the Ionian Sea, is closely tied to the history of the famed Onassis family whose private island of Scorpios lies adjacent. As such, the legendary Maria Callas, the longtime flame of Aristotle Onassis who would have celebrated her 90th birthday this December 2nd, was a regular visitor. Leaving her stamp on all those who had the privilege to have seen her perform, it was well known that Lefkada was her beloved hidden retreat.

Maria Callas spent many summers on this part of the Ionian sea and was often spotted shopping at the local stores and mingling with the islanders. All Lefkadians kept abreast of the developments in her stormy love affair with Onassis and admired her for her unparalleled talent and for what she brought to their town.

In the summer of 1964, I was barely five years old. As with every August night, my mother would take my brother and I to the central square or “plateia” in order to partake in the renowned Lefkadian Festival of Literature and Art. Established in 1955 by the inspirational Anthony Tzevelekis, the spectacle was the cultural highlight of the area where singers, dancers and musicians from all over the world would come to showcase their talents.

Completely unexpectedly one night, the crowd was abuzz that “La Callas” and Onassis were among the audience, enjoying the festivities from the same seats as everybody else. The details of the evening escape me but I distinctly remember my Mom clutching me in her arms and pleading with me to remain speechless as the greatest operatic diva of all time was about to sing. Dressed in a gorgeous summer dress and in a totally nonchalant manner, Callas climbed upon the stage and began belting out an aria. To my childhood ears, her voice was deafeningly penetrating, almost like a howling, but to the public it was simply magic.

The next day, the news spread like wildfire. Everyone knew that it was a once-in-a-lifetime moment and people were going up and down the narrow streets screaming, “Maria Callas performed at the Festival of Lefkada!” My mother was busy telling and retelling the details of her experience to the neighbors, describing the enthrallment she felt when that powerful voice poured out.

The stories in the newspapers recounted at the time how the soprano arrived to an overcrowded, 3,000-strong gathering in the central square with her tycoon lover. Suddenly, out of the blue and undoubtedly inspired by the crowd, she asked if she could sing. And, just like that, she rose up and performed Santuzza’s aria from the opera “Cavalleria Rusticana” by Pietro Mascagni.

At the piano, she was accompanied by a local musician-in-training, Kyriakos Sfetsas. Inspired by the moment, the talented Sfetsas would go on to greatness, becoming a noted composer, producer of the prestigious Third Program on National Greek Radio and, eventually, director of the Lefkadian Festival of Literature and Art.

Interviewed in 2005 about that memorable day, Sfetsas declared:

“The dead silence that spread when we went on stage was the most exciting music pause I have ever felt. As if a hidden air comes to draw you to some unknown dream. Velvet tones gushed and charmed the waters of the Ionian Sea. And they brought in a catharsis that only unspeakable events can bring. When Maria finished, everyone was screaming with joy and excitement, a huge throng accompanying her all the way to the port where her launch was awaiting. I disappeared, a simple number among the adoring thousands. I remember the loneliness and melancholy I felt as that unexpected dream lasted so little, bringing me so abruptly back to reality. I kept the feeling of the kiss she gave me on the cheek and the eroticism that I felt when I touched her bare arms.”

As for me, little as I was, that magical scene in Lefkada’s humble square would mark my memory and personal history forever. I would grow up listening to Callas’ albums and closely following her tragic life as it unfolded. When Aristotle Onassis betrayed her to marry Jackie Kennedy in 1968, it left an indelible mark on my soul.

She was only 53 years old when she died on September 16, 1977 as a result of an illness related to her vocal deterioration, living in isolation in her apartment in Paris.

When her ashes were eventually scattered over the Aegean Sea according to her wishes, as a female I could relate with the pain she must have felt over losing her true love and it is this personal drama that draws me to her even more than her magic voice.