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Peter Leesment

Peter Leesment has played a pivotal role in the development of Calgary's Estonian community. He has been a participant, guest speaker and organizer at numerous events across Alberta and Canada.

Peter was born in Estonia. During the second World War, he escaped to Germany with his parents. Peter and his mother lived in a German town inhabited by thousands of Estonian refugees. He enrolled in school learning both German and Estonian. In 1949 the Leesment family immigrated to Canada, living for a short while in Quebec before settling in Victoria, British Columbia. Victoria had a small but vibrant Estonian community; members often celebrated birthdays, Independence Day and Jaanipäev. Peter worked for his father's construction company, earning 25 cents an hour.

Peter graduated from the University of British Columbia is 1961. At school, Peter was a member of Vancouver's Estonian community. He participated in folk dances, social gatherings. While attending the University of British Columbia, he met his future wife Helgi. They married in 1964 and moved to Niagara Falls, Ontario where Peter found work as a chemical engineer. Being so close to Toronto, with its large Estonian population, presented the Leesments with various opportunities to maintain their proud Estonian heritage.

Estonian family and national costumes for an Alberta magazine article, Helgi, Krista and Peeter Leesment in Calgary, 1980. Helgi and Peter have served as Presidents of the Calgary Estonian Society In the 1970s Peter and Helgi moved to Calgary. Peter was appointed president of the Calgary Estonian Society in 1978. In all, Peter managed three tenures as the president of the society (1979-1981, 1985-1987, and 1990-1991). While the organization was dormant, Peter organized Estonian Independence Day celebrations during the 1980s .

His position at the Calgary Estonian Society gifted Peter with some fond memories. These include, among others, the first major province-wide Jaanipäev festival held in Stettler (1979), Estonia's independence (1991) and a visit by Estonian President Lennart Meri in 2000. Since 1972 Peter has visited Estonia ten times.

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