The unveiling of the bust of Ioannis Apostolos Fokas, the Kefalonian explorer who is better known world-wide as Juan de Fuca, was held on April 24, at the Museum of Vancouver (MOV), Vanier Park, in the Joyce Walley Room.
The bust, which bears the Greek flag and which is a creation of the famous Greek sculptor Ioannis Bardis, will now be on permanent display at the museum.
The event was organized by the World Federation of Cephalonian & Ithacan Societies “Odysseus”, the Ionian Cultural Federation of America, and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies at Simon Fraser University.
Ioannis Fokas, was the first European to arrive at the north-west coast of Canada. In 1592, while serving Spain, he discovered the strait which is between Vancouver island and the Olympic Peninsula, which is now part of the USA and known as the Juan de Fuca Strait.
Present at the event were the Consul General of Greece in Vancouver, Thanos Ioannou; the Member of the Canadian Parliament Peter Fragiskatos; President of the Hellenic-American National Council, Vasilis Mataragas; the Ionian Deputy Governor on Tourism, Spyros Galiatsatos; the president of the Cephalonian Society of NY “Kefalos”, Nick Alysandratos, and Greek community and residents of Canada and the USA.
The MP of the Canadian Parliament Fragiskatos noted the importance of the knowledge of history, but also that strength can transfer the values of the nation of the Greeks.
“The story of seafarer Ioannis Fokas reminds us of who we are,” says Fragiskatos. “We can be Greeks and Canadians at the same time. Today is a great day for all Greeks.”
He then congratulated all those who struggled to achieve this work.
Federation President Vlachos said, “Our goal became a reality. We have achieved a dream of years. Positioning the bust will decorate Vancouver after so many centuries and will return this compatriot to his country. What we have achieved is a national achievement.”
Secretary General of the Federation Costas Vangelatos referred to the efforts of the Federation to promote and highlight the issue of the great seafarer and to the efforts made so far for this matter. Vangelatos announced four scholarships with the name of Ioannis Fokas (Exploring Kefalonia Prize), which will be given to students of Simon Fraser University.
Vangelatos closed by saying, “We are not stopping here, but we will continue our efforts.”
Mataragas identified Juan de Fuca with every expatriate who leaves, works, and always holds his home country dear.
Ioannis Bardis, the sculptor, thanked everyone for their contribution and gave gifts to those who contributed to the creation of this work.
According a press release from the “ODYSSEUS” the Federation of Cephalonian & Ithacian Societies, this event would not have taken place without the historical research by the writer Eurydice Livada Duca, which began in 1992 and continues up until today.
This research revealed so much evidence that Ioannis Fokas and his discovery were indisputable, elements that were challenged by historians to this day.
The Consul General of Vancouver, Mr Thanos Ioannou, presented the Museum of Vancouver, the Federation, and Professor Gerolymatos of Simon Fraser University, with commemorative boxes with the de Fuca stamp.
(Photo credit: Vangelis Katevatis)