Pontians pay tribute to the ANZACs at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance

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The Federation of Pontian Associations of Australia’s Synapantema 2023 came to a close after
what was its largest Pontian gathering in Australia ever and the largest Pontian gathering in
decades with over 600 attendees.

Over 250 interstate travellers descended to Melbourne, including over 100 Pontian dancers joining their Melbournian brothers and sisters to celebrate Pontian culture. Headlining the event were two giants of Pontian culture – Alexis Parharidis and Fani Kourouklidis.

There would be no Pontian culture without the sacrifice and hard work from people within the Pontian
community
so the Federation held its annual national award ceremony during Synapantema to
honour those people.

  • Mr Onoufrios Gorozidis was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedicated service to the Federation.
  • The Metropolitan Chrysanthos of Trapezounta Award is a posthumous award and was introduced this year recognising the service and sacrifice to a significant person who has since passed on. The inaugural recipients were the late Christos Paschalidis (the Federation’s Founding Treasurer) and the late Konstantinos Sarrasis (the Federation’s Founding Secretary).
  • Named for renowned Pontian poet and writer Philon Ktenidis, three Ktenidis Awards recognise a lifetime of cultural contribution and were presented to: Christos Parharidis, Lambis Parharidis and George Sevastopoulos.
  • Euklidis Awards recognising strong leadership were presented to: Nazareth Chisolm (President of the Pontian Brotherhood of SA), and John Theodoridis (President of SAE Australia).
  • Appreciation award for work to making Synapantema possible were presented to: Voula Tsarouhidis (Akrites Tou Pontou Victoria), Maria Anthony (Pontoxeniteas NSW), Myrto Makridi (Akrites tou Pontou Victoria), Peter Papoulidis (Panayia Soumela Sydney), and Harry Tsairis (Akrites Tou Pontou Victoria).
  • Heraklides Award is a new award presented to people who were inspired to undertake a creative project that enhances the Pontian Culture. This year it was presented to 3 young Pontians who coordinated the International Pontian Film Festival (IPFF): Miss Kiriaki Kakamanoudis (Pontian Brotherhood of South Australia), Miss Myrto Makridi (Akrites tou Pontou, Victoria), Kosta Papoulidis (Pontoxeniteas NSW).
  • President’s Awards of Merit were presented to Myrto Makridis for her work on social media throughout the pandemic.

Tributes to Anzacs and Hellenes

Synapantema 2023 concluded with a special ceremony at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance on the February 19. On behalf of the Federation and its member-associations, President Peter Stefanidis laid a single wreath at “The Stone of Remembrance.” It is symbolic of a gravestone for those Victorian servicemen and women buried overseas and in unmarked graves.

Federation representatives in traditional dress stood guard around the Stone of Remembrance during the ceremony. The wreath was a tribute to those Victorian women who served the shared values of Hellenism and Australia in war and peace. Especially the Anzacs who sacrificed themselves to rescue Hellenes, Armenians and Assyrians during the Genocides of those peoples between 1914 and 1924.

Following the moving silent ceremony, attendees moved to the lecture theatre for a brief presentation. Historian and genocide scholar Dr Panayiotis Diamadis related the stories of Australian women – anonymous and eponymous – who served Hellenism and Australia in peace and in war between 1915 and 1930.

These included the doctors, nurses and ancillary staff on Lemnos island and on the Macedonian Front (1915-1918) including celebrated author Stella Miles Franklin, Olive Kelso King, Dr Agnes Bennett, Dr Mary de Garis, Dr Elsie Jean Dalyell and many more.

Diamadis also spoke about the Australian women who dedicated themselves to organising humanitarian aid for survivors of the Hellenic, Armenian and Assyrian Genocides. Women such as Joice Nan Kivell Loch, Hilda King and Edith Glanville to name but a few.

The presentation concluded with recommendations relating to celebrating the dual identities as Australians and Hellenes through the commemoration of the Australian heritage in Hellas and Cyprus, as well as the Hellenic heritage in Australia and New Zealand. With the refreshments and networking that followed the presentation, Synapantema 2023 closed.

All eyes now turn to Synapantema 2024, marking the 35th anniversary of the Federation of
Pontian Associations of Australia.

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