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Estevan hosts German provincial convention

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Michael and Ruth Bartolff accepted a special volunteer award from Saskatchewan German Council president Ilona Beck.

The Saskatchewan German Council's Treffpunkt Weekend provincial convention featured entertainment, the recognition of volunteers and a celebration of German culture.

The convention was held June 22 and 23 in Estevan, with most of the activities happening at the Over-60 Club inside the Leisure Centre. The Estevan German Freundschaft (Friendship) Society hosted the event, which attracted nearly 100 people from across the province.

Saskatchewan German Council president Ilona Beck said that the convention provides a chance to share ideas and discuss challenges facing their clubs. The council also used convention to unveil their new logo: a green circle with green, red and gold swooshes and dots.

"It's a symbol for our unity – unity in Saskatchewan including all our cultural roots, from music to dance, from language to genealogy," said Beck. "It's a symbol for inclusivity."

The circle represents traditional and contemporary cultures; the three dots symbolize culture, language and tradition; and the colours are for German values (gold), energy and passion (red) and renewal, growth and Saskatchewan (green).

"Saskatchewan is such a multi-cultural province, and it's possible here to practice your culture and also to share it on a multi-cultural level," said Beck.

Volunteers who have worked hard to promote German culture in their communities were saluted. Michael and Ruth Bartolff of Oxbow, who have been members of Estevan's club since its inception in 1991, were among the recipients.

"Mike has held all executive positions in the club," said Beck. "He was president twice."

Ruth said that they have enjoyed playing German music for the nursing homes and at other venues in the community.

"There's nothing better than German music," Ruth said.

They have also taken an active role in several different organizations in Oxbow and in the province over the years.

Four other awards were handed out to people from across the province.

"The winners of these awards serve by personal example, and they are role models in our community," said Beck. "Their contributions have advanced German-Canadian culture in our province."

Local author Marie Donais Calder was the guest speaker at a banquet on the 22nd. Calder has penned 11 books about the experiences of her father, Ed Donais, who was a Canadian peacekeeper and mechanic in Germany, and Calder said that her father was proud of the German people.

She encouraged the German people to stop feeling guilty for the mistakes of their ancestors and the nation's previous government.

"We want the world to know your (the Germans') side, the other side, of the story," said Donais Calder. "I go...wherever I can to try to tell everyone that German people are no different than anyone else."

Ed Donais greatly missed his family back in the Alida area, but Donais Calder said that he formed a wonderful friendship with a German boy, Johann, and Johann's family.

The convention also featured tours of local attractions, a dance and meetings.

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