I am Adrianna Šuštar and I moved to Ottawa in 2012 to study. After graduation, I was lucky enough to get a job at the Embassy of Slovenia where I have now been the secretary for just over a year. I have always been an active member of the Slovenian community. When I was growing up in Toronto, my grandparents were members of Simon Gregorčič Club in New Market and I attended picnics there as a child. I have been dancing my entire life, and my family was an important part of Mladi Glas and Planika dance group in Toronto. My father is the director, my mother was on the council, my older sister was a teacher, and my younger sister was one of the dancers who recently toured in Slovenia. Traditional Slovenian dance has been a huge part of my life and something that I've been missing dearly since I moved to Ottawa. When I started university I received the Krek Slovenian Credit Union and Slovenki Dom scholarships for exceptional participation in the Slovenian Community. Once I moved to Ottawa I volunteered and worked at the Embassy of Slovenia where I was the main organizer of Slovenia Day on June 23 2017. This was the biggest gathering of Slovenians in Ottawa and was attended by Minister Zmavc. I had the opportunity to tour Slovenia with Mladi Glas and my friend Sašo Avsenik (and his ensemble) as the official videographer and am working on producing a professional Slovenian dance DVD. I am also a member of the Button Akordion Rocks Club and am working to improve my reading and writing in Slovenian.
My name is Maria Colja and I moved to Ottawa to start university and completed my Master’s degree in European, Russia, and Eurasian Studies. My research is on the importance of mountains in Slovenian national identity. The Slovenian community has always been a very important part of my life. From a young age, I was involved in the Slovenian community in Windsor. At the age of four, I began dancing in Windsor’s Planika dance group, a Slovenian folk dance group. I participated in this dance group for 13 years. I am also a member of Zvon, the Slovenian cultural club in Windsor, Ontario. This cultural association is a very important part of my life and family as my Dedek was one of the original shareholders and members. My family has also been members of Slovenski Park for over 10 years, a Slovenian campground/organization where we camp and volunteer. While there are few opportunities in Ottawa to be part of the Slovenia community, since 2012 when I moved here I began to volunteer at events with the Embassy of Slovenia such as Slovenia Welcomes the World. I have also been lucky enough to receive a scholarship from Slovenia to attend the annual Slovenian language summer school held at the University of Ljubljana. I traveled there to not only participate in the language course for my third time but also to conduct interviews for my major research paper. I have continued my Slovenian language studies via Skype lessons through the University of Ljubljana. I am excited to start this new endeavor of teaching Slovenian folk dance in order to make the Slovenian community in Ottawa more vibrant.