Lithuania brought its millennial party to Halifax yesterday as the goodwill ship Ambersail docked as part of its global tour celebrating the Baltic Sea country’s 1,000th birthday.
The yacht sailed in under hot blue skies to a waiting crowd of dozens, including the Lithuanian ambassador, provincial minister Barry Barnet and HRM Mayor Peter Kelly. Canada is home to 47,000 Lithuanians, of which approximately 10 live in Halifax.
Most of those are Vaiva Galiniene, her husband Erlandan and their daughters, all on hand to meet the Ambersail. Galiniene moved to Canada 15 years ago and has seen great changes in her homeland.
“The history, it just makes us so proud,” she said. “The things that our country and all the people went through to be where we are today … it’s very exciting for me — I just want to cry.”
Lithuanian ambassador Ginte Damusis greeted the Ambersail’s crew, who had sailed up from Florida. The nine-month trip will eventually range from Argentina to New Zealand.
Damusis said the first recorded mention of Lithuania came in 1009. “On the threshold of its millennium, Lithuania re-established its independence,” she said, noting Lithuania was the first country to leave the USSR in 1990 and became a member of the European Union and NATO in 2004.
“We’re working side-by-side with Canada at NATO. Canada is home to many Lithuanians who found refuge here as they fled their country against their will after the (Second World War),” she said.