Kanados Lietuvių Bendruomenė

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Kanados Lietuvių Bendruomenė

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Kanados Lietuvių Bendruomenė or KLB (Lithuanian Canadian Community, LCC) is the Canadian chapter of the apolitical, non-governmental and non-profit Pasaulio Lietuvių Bendruomenė or PLB (Lithuanian World Community). The basis for the PLB is found in the “Lietuvių Charta” (Lithuanian Charter) that was declared on June 14, 1949 by the Vyriausiasis Lietuvos išlaisvinimo komitetas or VLIKas (Supreme Committee for the Liberation of Lithuania) in Germany where it had regrouped after the second Soviet occupation of Lithuania. VLIKas was established by representatives of Lithuania’s various political parties in German occupied Lithuania in 1943 to act as an underground government until restoration of Lithuanian independence. VLIKas also prepared a draft constitution for the PLB in 1949 that declared that the PLB consists of all Lithuanians living abroad and its primary purposes are to support and unite all Lithuanians outside Lithuania's borders, to promote and preserve Lithuanian culture and language abroad and to help restore an independent Lithuania. Even though the first PLB Seimas (Congress) was only held in 1958, national chapters had been formed in 20 countries around the world by that time. The origins of the KLB can be traced to the formation of the Kanados Lietuvių Sąjunga (Lithuanian Association of Canada) at a meeting of representatives of its local chapters during a congress of Lithuanian organizations called by the Kanados Lietuvių Taryba (Lithuanian Council of Canada) in Montreal in March of 1949. Kanados Lietuvių Taryba had been formed by representatives of existing Lithuanian organizations in response to the first Soviet occupation of Lithuania in 1940 and was meant to unify the political and relief efforts of those organizations. The purpose of the Kanados Lietuvių Sąjunga was to unify all individuals of Lithuanian decent in Canada in a democratic organization. A rift developed in the Lithuanian community in Canada following the 1949 Montreal congress as the Kanados Lietuvių Centro Taryba (Lithuanian Council of Canada Central Committee) refused to acknowledge the formation and authority of the Kanados Lietuvių Sąjunga. The rift was driven primarily by political and religious differences between some of the more active and influential members of the two organizations. The rift was slowly healed following the formation of the KLB Laikinasis Organizacinis Komitetas or LOK (LCC Provisional Organizing Committee) in July of 1949. The LOK organized 21 regional chapters or apylinkės in cities and regions with significant Lithuanian communities, that then elected representatives to the Krašto Taryba (National Council) that met August 30-31, 1952 in Montreal and officially established the KLB when it adopted the KLB’s first constitution or by-laws and elected its first Krašto Valdyba (National Executive). Since 1952, the Krašto Taryba, whose members are currently elected for a three year term, meets at least once every year to set priorities for the KLB’s activities for the coming year. Originally, KLB was known in English as the Lithuanian Canadian Federation, but it was officially named the Lithuanian-Canadian Community when the organization was federally incorporated in 1963. The primary role of the KLB has been to promote Lithuanian culture and self-awareness in Canada and has included establishing and supporting Lithuanian language schools, organizing Lithuanian cultural events such as Kanados Lietuvių Dienos (Lithuanian Canadian Days), folk dance and song festivals, providing charitable support for Lithuanian refugees in Europe and Canada after WW II and for Lithuania after the restoration of its independence in 1990, and representing Lithuanian political interests in Canada.

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