Estonian Hon. Consul Jaan Olaf Soosaar hit the 80 year milestone on May 19, engines at full throttle, as they have been always. The Estonian Central Council in Canada has always seen him as the voice of the community on the East Coast, well known and respected by all.
During the late 1980’s, when the Soviet Union was slowly loosening its grip on Estonia, but not willing to let Estonia exercise its right to self-determination, as a journalist with excellent access to sources, Jaan was able to keep Hon. Consul General Ilmar Heinsoo and the Central Council well informed of fast-breaking news from the Baltic states and the USSR. This was in the pre-Internet era, when information did not disseminate instantaneously.
It was crucial that the lobby effort in Ottawa be supplied with reliable material to keep our message credible and fresh. Jaan himself, as a journalist had also developed many valuable political contacts to whom he could present the same narrative of freedom and independence for Estonia. Nova Scotia’s most prominent political dynasties, father Elmer and son Peter MacKay, both federal cabinet ministers, became trustworthy friends of John as sincere promoters of the same cause.
Jaan was born in 1941 in Schwerin, Germany, the second son of Estonian war refugees. From there the family eventually arrived in Canada and settled in the Halifax area. Jaan has had a rich professional career, fulfilling many different roles, mainly in Canadian media. Mostly as a journalist for 40 years, Jaan, worked both in print for the Canadian Press and television with the Atlantic Television System (now CTV) as a regional assignment editor and CBC News World as a producer. Here Jaan had full access to wire and TV feeds from Europe, which was key in our informing political decision-makers in Ottawa during the fast-paced years of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
During his long career Jaan has produced many documentary films. For rhe last years before retirement, Jaan was an advisor to the Minister in the office of Aboriginal Affairs of the Nova Scotia government, a producer of videos on Mi’kmaq history and current life on reserves. He’s still busy, beside his duties as an Hon. Consul, with free lance writing and volunteer with a trail group.
Although living a few thousand kilometers apart, we have become good friends over many decades. With plenty of face-to-face discussions in Ottawa, Halifax, Toronto, Tallinn, Vilnius, Riga and elsewhere,we know we’re on the same wave length as Estonians, standing for the same cause.
Jaan is sure to keep that engine revved up and well-tuned.
Laas Leivat, Toronto
Reede, 14 Mai 2021 19:00
Estonian Life No. 19 2021