Prepared in by: Jerry J. Klimes, President of Canadian Czechoslovak Benevolent Association in year 2001.
Czechoslovak Benevolent Association was founded in April 1913 under the
name Czecho-Slavic Benevolent Association (Czechoslovakia did not exist
then yet). The initial purpose of the organization was to help
newcomers to establish themselves in their new country, and at the same
time, preserve the traditions, culture and heritage of their homeland.
This very important task remained unchanged up until these days and it
still is most emphasized among our members.
WW1 and defeat of Austro-Hungarian Empire several new countries were
founded in Europe, among them was also Czechoslovakia. Having own
country initiated Czechs and Slovaks who were a vast majority in
existing organization to change the name to Czecho -Slovak. Through
donations and fund raising drives members were able to buy their own
building social hall and very same building is our home base in these
years between WW1 and WW2, due to a large wave of immigration,
association grew and prospered quite well. Several members became well
recognized and respected citizens of Winnipeg and played very important
role in the development of the organization.
huge wave of newcomers came in 1948, after communist takeover in
Czechoslovakia. Our Association broke all ties with the new communist
government and distanced itself entirely. Some of these people
dedicated to life, growth and prosperity of the Association, preserving
heritage and promoting culture and traditions in Manitoba. Thanks to
their tremendous efforts Czechs and Slovaks became more recognized.
of liberal uprising and invasion of Soviet Army in August 68 generated
last massive stream of new immigrants from Czechoslovakia to Canada.
Also majority of them elected to stay in Eastern Canada, Winnipeg had a
significant number of newcomers. Many of these are still very active in
our Association and they play a very important role. Late sixties and
early seventies were the last time when our organization experienced a
dramatic and large growth.
that time newcomers were coming to Manitoba just sparely. However, this
did not have a negative effect on growth of the organization until the
collapse of communism in Czechoslovakia in November 89. Establishing a
new democratic regime in the country almost completely eliminated a
need for leaving country and looking for a new land where to live.
reflection of this situation for us is a fact we have very, very few
new citizens coming to Winnipeg. Along with an aging current
membership, fading enthusiasm, sense of lost purpose, we found
ourselves at the point of virtual extinction. Fortunately for us in
March 1997 a group of several members decided that a radical change is
needed. That, there is much more to the curent Czech and Slovak
communities than single purpose of initiating newcomers to the life in
Canada. New executive realized it would be an irreplaceable damage to
loose the organization and started vigorously working on a rapid
improvement. They successfully started assembling Czechs and Slovaks
again and convincing them about priceless value of having own place,
where our culture and heritage can be preserved and passed on to our
magazin edited by Giselle Majersky and Joe Dobrovolny in
Czech and Slovak languages, is into the eighteenth year of its publication,
providing members and non members with a glimps of the activities in
our community. Special projects of social, cullinary and cultural
nature are registering growing participation by members and nonmembers
of Czech and Slovak discent alike. A CCBA website is being updated as this report is being
updated. It is an ultimate goal of this executive to eventualy
establish a youth committee, which will be operating along side of the
board. Ultimately, members of this committee will be the future leaders
of our organization.