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August 2nd became a day of historic importance and national pride for Macedonians when, in 338 BC the Macedonian army led by the Macedonian king – Philip of Macedon and his young son, Alexander, who later became known as the Great, totally defeated the unified forces of Athens and Thebes.

With the introduction of Christianity to Macedonia, August 2nd, or Ilinden came to represent a significant day in the life of every Macedonian. It was no surprise that on this same day in 1903, the Macedonian freedom fighters started the Ilinden uprising against the 500 year-old Ottoman rule of Macedonia, with a goal of establishing a free Macedonian state. The goal was achieved, but lasted only 11 days.

The sacrifices and heroism of the 1903 uprising remained as a beacon in the Macedonian psyche for the next four decades, until a new generation of Macedonian freedom fighters succeeded in establishing the People’s Republic of Macedonia on Ilinden again, August 2nd 1944.

On August 6, 2006, the United Macedonians Organization of Canada organized its annual Ilinden picnic on the grounds of the beautiful Ilinden Park in the township of Scugog. It was the 48th gathering organized by the Organization, and the seventh held at this 38-acre park north-west of Toronto. Thousands of Canadian-Macedonians enjoyed the warm weather, beautiful scenery and the sounds of Macedonian music played by the band “Rumba”.

The picnic started at 10:00 am with the regular Sunday service in front of the Macedonian Orthodox Monastery “St. Ilija”. After the service Orchestra Rumba played and guests danced traditional Macedonian dances. At 3:00 pm the national anthems of Canada and Macedonia were played, followed by a Memorial Service in honour of the fallen fighters of Macedonia and Canada. Father Trajko Boseovski read the greetings from Archbishop Stefan, head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church.

Honourary guests, Mr. Lui Temelkovski, MP for Oak Ridges and His Excellency Mr. Saso Nasev, Ambassador of the Republic of Macedonia to Canada, greeted the crowd. The MC, Dragi Stojkovski, read greetings from the President of the Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Branko Crvenkovski, and Mr. Georgi Donevski, Executive Secretary of the Union of Associations of Macedonians from the Aegean part of Macedonia – Skopje. In the evening, 19 Macedonian girls participated in the annual Miss United Macedonians contest. Mary Kominovski of Stouffville was chosen Miss United Macedonians 2006, Mary Lazarevski of Scarborough was first runner-up while the Second runner-up was Kathy Stoyanovski, also of Scarborough.

During the contest and for a change of pace, George Pliakes performed as the Macedonian Elvis. The official programme ended with the men’s races, followed by more Macedonian songs and dances until nightfall.


© 2006  MacedonianLife.com