Hellenic Canadian Community of York Region
Founded in 1980, HCCY is a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting and empowering Greek Canadians in the vibrant York Region, located within the Greater Toronto Area. Our mission is to establish a strong and enduring network that preserves our rich Hellenic heritage through impactful programs, while benefiting our members, their families, and paying homage to our ancestors.
At HCCY, we are a community of Greek Canadians who are passionate about celebrating and promoting our Hellenic culture. We are proud of our roots and strive to foster a sense of belonging and unity among our members.
We are committed to preserving our Hellenic heritage by organizing cultural events, festivals, and activities that showcase the richness and diversity of Greek traditions, history, language, arts, and cuisine.
- Helen Barbalias – President
- Nick Seretis – VP, Community Relations
- George Vlahakis – VP, Memberships
- Nick Torkos – Treasurer
- Michele Seretis – Secretary
- Ria Orlotti – Board Member
- Mike Papadakis – Board Member
- Christina Vlahakis – Board Member
- Angelo Spingos – Board Member
Establishment and Goals
Letters Patent were issued by the province of Ontario on April 8, 1980 which officially created the HCCY as a separate legal entity in accordance with the laws of Ontario. There were eleven individuals who acted as applicants and original incorporators of the HCCY. Some of these individuals went on the become presidents of the organization or to serve on boards in other capacities. The eleven individuals were (in alphabetical order) Alex Alexopoulos, Christos Anagnostopoulos, Angelos Angelopoulos, John Chlorakos, George Dimakakos, Anastasios Karabatsos, Nickolas Minas, Larry Mirkopoulos, Peter Paganos, George Stefou, and Pantelis Tsiarias.
The HCCY was incorporated with thirteen objectives which included among other things: To preserve and foster the study and development of the Greek culture and traditions among members of the community; To promote interest in and the study of Greek culture, religion, and traditions; To establish and maintain schools for the teaching of the Greek language, Greek culture and Greek traditions; To supply and render services of a charitable nature to poor and needy persons;
The HCCY is governed by an elected board of directors. In the early years elections were held every year and it was typical for the president to change each year. There were 14 presidents over the years, some who served several terms or years. The first elections were held on May 18, 1980. The first president of the HCCY was Anastasios Karabatsos. Mr. Karabatsos would go on to serve 3 one year terms in total (the last ending in 1991) and remained active in the organization’s affairs for many years. Lazaros (Larry) Mirkopoulos served as the president for four terms, the last ending in 1999. The first president to serve consecutive terms was Steve Mirkopoulos, who served during 1984-1987. George Seretis was the next president to serve consecutive terms, from 1992 – 1996. Those were especially active years of the organization. Since George Gourmos was elected in 1999, each president has served for consecutive terms of two or three years, for the most part.
Homes of HCCY
A permanent home has been a constant but elusive dream of the HCCY. To this date, the HCCY does not operate out of permanent offices and owns no real property. Notwithstanding, this too is one of the objects of the corporation. In the early years, HCCY directors would meet in local Greek-owned businesses, such as George Stefou’s donut shop, or local steakhouses owned by Greeks. The organizations also met and held functions at local ton galls or community centers, such as on Spruce St. in Richmond Hill, the Central Library, or the Richvale Community Center on Avenue Road in Richmond Hill. A major initiative launched in 1985 by Committee Chair John Traganitis was a proposal made to the Town of Richmond Hill for assistance with a premises for a Club House for the organization. This culminated in a lease to occupy the Farm House located on Richmond Green on Elgin Mills Road. The organization also for some time occupied the old Richmond Hill Town Hall on Yonge Street, which ended when the property was cleared to make way for the Richmond Hill Centre for Performing Arts.
The HCCY has a long history of participation in community events and functions. As early as 1981, the fledgling HCCY participated in the Richmond Hill Santa Clause parade and won first prize for its float, featuring a Christmas manger theme including a live sheep. The HCCY has also participated in the Town’s July 1st celebrations. The HCCY has also been very generous to other community groups, charities and hospitals. The HCCY has been a regular contributor to the Mackenzie Health Hospital (formerly York Central Hospital) including in addition to monetary donations, gifts of toys by our children to children spending time in Hospital over the holidays. The HCCY has also contributed to other associations such as the Hellenic Heritage Foundation, the Hellenic Home for the Aged, the Hellenic Canadian Federation of Ontario, the Cretans, the Kavala Association, the Thessalonikians, the Pontions, the York Region Hellenics Social and Athletics Club, to name just a few. The HCCY was very proud to have been part of the Olympic Torch Relay in December 2009. Stephanie Parigoris, a student at the Hellenics Academy of York, carried the torch for 300 metres down Yonge Street near Highway 407!
The operation of a Greek School for the children was one of the principal reasons to create the HCCY and indeed some form of Greek School was operating from the very early years of the organization. Minutes from 1984 indicate that 32 families had children registered at the Greek School that year. Since that time our Greek School has continued to thrive and grow to over 300 students in the current school year! The Greek School was converted to a registered charity called the York Hellenics Educational Society (also known as Hellenic Academy of York) and is further described in the section on Charitable Status.
Working With Our Seniors
The HCCY has also contributed funds, services and time to assist its seniors. When a Senior’s Club or Committee was formed, the HCCY worked with the Committee to obtain premises for the benefits of its members and to provide services and maintenance.
Women’s Auxiliary Committee
A Ladies Auxiliary Committee was very active in the early years of the organization and by all accounts was very successful in attracting participation by many volunteers. The committee put on a number of functions over the years and were assisted by the HCCY board when needed. A Hawaiian Night organized by the Committee in June 1984 was noted in the minutes and a great many other functions throughout many years. Formal rules respecting the relationship between the Women’s Auxiliary Committee and the HCCY were entered into in 1985 and the two groups shared a close collaboration for the years the Committee was in existence.
Based on the HCCY’s objects on incorporation the HCCY has been focused on charitable endeavours. The obtaining of charitable status for the HCCY was suggested as early as 1985 by then Chair of the Public Relations Committee, Mr. George Seretis (who later became president and served from 1992-1996 in that capacity). In pursuit of this goal, the Greek School was isolated and put into a separate legal entity that was incorporated on September 14, 2007 by Letters Patent issued under the Ontario Corporations Act. The name of the entity is York Hellenic Educational Society. The business name “Hellenic Academy of York” was registered on behalf of the corporation under the Business Names Act on November 26, 2008. The Canada Revenue Agency registered the Hellenic Academy of York as a charitable organization effective December 12, 2008 and the official registration number assigned to the organization is 83960 5755 RR0001.
Our Past Presidents
- Anastasios (Tom) Karabatsos 1980-1981
- John Chlorakos 1981-1982
- Lazaros (Larry) Mirkopoulos 1982-1983
- Anastasios (Tom) Karabatsos 1983-1984
- Steve Mirkopoulos 1984-1987
- John Traganitis 1987-1988
- Haralambos (Bob) Kiriazis 1988-1989
- George Stefou 1989-1990
- Anastasios (Tom) Karabatsos 1990-1991
- Lazaros (Larry) Mirkopoulos 1991-1992
- George Seretis 1992-1996
- Lazaros (Larry) Mirkopoulos 1996-1997
- Kostas (Gus) Kriarakis 1997-1998
- Lazaros (Larry) Mirkopoulos 1998-1999
- George Gourmos 1999-2002
- Anastasios Baxevanidis 2003-2005
- Marianthy Mpatsos 2005-2006
- Marian Winter 2006-2009
- Greg Kanargelidis 2009-2013
- Emmanuel Constas 2013-2015
- Harris Gratsias 2015-2019
- Helen Barbalias 2019-