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Mai Liis

EANC was represented at LEP by Vice President Mai-Liis Bartling and Washington, DC Director Karin Shuey.  Photo by Linnea Bartling

Estonian American National Council (EANC) representatives had a great time sharing our work and celebrating Estonian culture at the 34th West Coast Estonian Days festival, or Lääneranniku Eesti Päevad (LEP). EANC Vice President for Strategy Mai-Liis Bartling and Washington, DC Director Karin Shuey attended the event and showed EANC’s support for this proud west coast tradition.

Mai-Liis represented EANC (as well as her local San Francisco Estonian Society) at various meetings and events. She had the honor of carrying the flag from the 1953 festival in San Francisco during the opening ceremony procession of LEP flags. She also worked with Portland's Valdek Parik to bring the “Estonia Through 100 Pairs of Eyes” exhibit to the festival, where it was featured prominently. EANC was one of three organizations that sponsored the exhibit's west coast tour. More information on the exhibit is available at estonia.eewww.estosite.orgestonia-through-100-pairs-of-eyes.

Karin held a well-attended seminar titled “EANC, Advocacy, and You”. She covered the history of EANC and some of its past advocacy successes; other organizations it belongs to and works with; its current advocacy work, including the Baltic caucuses in the House and Senate; the top issues of concern for U.S. policy in the Baltic region; and how audience members could help advance U.S. policy related to Estonia and regional security.



Washington, DC Director Karin Shuey conducting a seminar on EANC's work and grassroots activism for Estonia.   Photo by Susan Muld-Bender


She joined Mai-Liis in the opening ceremony procession, carrying the flag from the 1981 LEP in Seattle. She also brought to the festival a miniature version of the exhibit she and JBANC created last year for display as part of the State Department’s recognition of the Baltic centennials, which was displayed near the event’s registration desk and viewed with interest by both festival attendees and other hotel guests.

Other distinguished speakers offered seminars on several other topics, as well. They included discussions on Global Estonians – Estonian language and mind in the world – a vision for the future by Anne-Ly Reimaa; Estonian American Business Relations by Andrus Viirg; an overview of the new International Estonian Center in Toronto by Urve Tamberg; The Gift of Life: The Phenomenal Journey of Estonia’s Largest Charitable Fund in 5 Years by Toivo Tänavsuu; and Beltweaving by Katrin MacLean.

The first LEP was held in San Francisco in 1953 and was followed by events in 1955 in Los Angeles and 1957 in Portland, solidifying the biennial tradition.

It has rotated among these cities, Vancouver, BC, and Seattle ever since. An informative history of LEP was written by Helmuth Kalmann of Portland when that city’s community last hosted in 2011. It is available online at

While the duration and format of the festivals have evolved over the years, enthusiasm for the event among the west coast diaspora and beyond has not waned. At the end of this year’s event, Portland Estonian Society President Kalle Merilo passed the flag to Seattle Estonian Society President Kristi Urv and we look forward to supporting Seattle’s event in the coming years.


Karin Shuey
Washington, DC Director
Estonian American National Council


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