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Reaching Out: Greek Culture

By Maria Papadopoulos

Toronto boasts the second highest concentration of Greeks outside of Greece, which is evident in the densely populated neighbourhoods in the Danforth.  Greek immigrants came to Canada looking for a bright future, better jobs and safe communities to raise children.  Today, shops, restaurants and celebrations are reminiscent of the lively streets of Greece. 

A group of Greco-Canadians in Calgary created a unique magazine catering to Greek immigrants and their families.  Metoxos, meaning shareholder, debuted before the 2004 Olympic games in Athens with the hope of re-connecting Greco-Canadian families. 

The magazine uses a bilingual format, with articles showcasing an appreciation and dedication to Hellenism, which refers to Greeks – or more specifically Ancient Greeks, including philosophers, the architects and other great minds.

“The magazine was created to reflect the changing demographic composition of Hellenic families abroad,” says Constantina Zarakosta, the Greek-Canadian editor. “It was created to provide an understanding between all generations. Instead of having a magazine sitting on the table in all English or Greek, you know that every generation will understand something.”

In February, a new logo was created to offer a modern look. Instead of having the entire word Metoxos spelled out, the design now consists of a single M.  The change is an attempt to cater to the tastes of a younger demographic. The vibrant colours on the front cover, as well as the inside pages, further reflects a more modern approach.

Zarakosta says the bilingual aspect of the magazine is key in reaching across generations. “You need to have the bilingualism to cut through the generations and to lessen that generation gap and understanding.”

Metoxos’ head office is in Calgary, but there are offices and contributors in Greece, Australia and the United States.

Elena Paparizou, who is on the cover of the Jan-Feb issue, embodies what Metoxos
is all about.

Paparizou was the winner of the 2005 Eurovision singing competition. She is of Greek descent but was born and raised in Sweden. She chose to represent Greece at the Eurovision Song competition.  With her smash hit “Number One”, Paparizou became an international superstar and a Greek icon.

“Elena Paparizou is a really good example of Greeks outside of Greece who have a passion for Hellenism, a passion for the culture, who grow up outside of Greece and do everything in their power to reflect their respect for their culture and who make it known internationally.”

While the magazine is geared toward Greeks, the content is flexible in that anyone can read it and relate to it.

The magazine works because it does not perpetuate Greek stereotypes. The pages aren’t flooded with “Opas!” or smashed plates. Metoxos does not attempt to be overly traditional. Instead, it presents Greeks in a modern context.

The great philosopher Socrates said it best, “I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.” 

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