WATERTOWN — The Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) of the United States and Canada held its 36th convention on Saturday, November 5 via Zoom due to consideration of the ongoing Covid19 pandemic. The 25 voting delegates included representatives from seven Tekeyan chapters and TCA Central Board members, while a number of additional TCA members and staff participated in the discussions.
The session commenced with words of welcome and a general summary of the situation in which TCA finds itself by CB President Edmond Y. Azadian, who served also as the president of the convention. He noted the unusual circumstances created by Covid, not least of which was holding the convention in the virtual realm, after the pandemic prevented the holding of in-person assemblies
After roll call confirmed a quorum, the president announced the composition of the Nominating Committee, the Dicran Simsarian Award Committee and the Courtesies Committee. He then asked Executive Director Aram Arkun to present the CB report on activities for the 2021 year.
TCA Central Board 2021 Activities
The CB was able to resume some travel and in-person meetings with chapters and individuals in North America and Armenia. The Sponsor a Teacher program continued to fundraise and support teachers and staff in Armenia and Artsakh for the 20th year, while the CB and the Dr. Nubar Berberian Trust Fund Committee for the fourth year awarded scholarships to two university students studying political science or international relations.
In 2021, the CB raised close to $34,000 in support of the Hrant Dink School of Istanbul, and also sent $20,000 to Beirut’s Tekeyan School and other Armenian schools through West Coast TCA member donations. The CB provided assistance to the TCA of Vanadzor, Armenia, for its expansion, and initiated a program of aid to the staff and teachers of the Vahan Tekeyan School of Berdzor in Artsakh, who had become refugees after the loss of this region. This endeavor was implemented by TCA CB member Arto Manoukian of Montreal and monitored by TCA’s Armenia representative Gayane Muratyan, with the assistance of Anahit Kosakyan, the last principal of the Berdzor school. TCA in collaboration with the Syunik NGO of Vayots Dzor province made investments into beekeeping and animal husbandry in order to create means of livelihood for the refugees.
The TCA CB continued its financial support of the newspapers Azg in Armenia, Baikar, the Armenian Mirror-Spectator, Abaka, Nor Ashkharh of Athens, Greece, and Zartonk of Beirut. The printing of Baikar, which was halted in 2020 in Los Angeles due to the Covid pandemic, restarted in 2021. TCA also supported the Prague-based magazine Orer in 2021.
Both the TCA Montreal Center and the Beshgeturian Center conducted significant renovations of their facilities in 2021. The Beshgeturian Center despite the pandemic difficulties created a Social Committee which held several dinners and lectures in 2021.
The TCA Mher Megerdchian Theatrical Group, based in the TCA New Jersey rented center, issued a music video, “My One and Only Love – Miak Im Ser” in Armenian and English, on December 26, 2021, for Christmas, together with the Huyser Music Ensemble. Due to the pandemic, it was forced to postpone an open air concert in 2021 till the following year and could not hold other activities.
The CB supported a conference on Arpiar Arpiarian and the Reformed Hnchagian Party at the Armenian Academy of Sciences in Yerevan in June, 2021, and book publications in North America, Armenia and Lebanon.
CB Treasurer Maro Bedrosian reported on the Tekeyan portfolio, which is managed by Michael Norehad. She noted that despite four major worries in the markets – inflation, higher interest rates, the slowdown in earnings growth, and geopolitical issues with both Russia and China – in the end the markets again rallied to make 2021 a third excellent year. However, there may be a pull back in 2022.
CB Assistant Treasurer Kevork Marashlian then reported on the budgetduring 2021.
Sponsor a Teacher Program
Bedrosian announced that in 2021, TCA raised and distributed $38,610 in support of four Tekeyan schools in Armenia and one in Berdzor, Artsakh, to 334 teachers in total. President Azadian and CB member Mihran Minassian, along with TCA representative Muradyan, visited the schools to carry out the distribution. Between 2001 and 2021, a grand total of $798,260 has been raised and distributed through this program. Bedrosian has been in charge of this program since its inception.
Publications and Chapter Reports
Publications Committee Chair Hagop Vartivarian noted that TCA published ten Armenian-language books from 2019 to 2022, the majority of which are on topics of literary or historical significance, and presented their titles and authors.
This was followed by reports from seven chapters on their activities during 2021. The report from Boston was presented by Sossy Yogurtian, Detroit by Diana Alexanian, Greater New York by Sylvia Buzantian, Los Angeles by Lilit Keheyan, Metro Los Angeles by Shahnour Hovsepian, Montreal by Noubar Babikian, and Pasadena-Glendale by Siran Oknayan.
Election to Central Board
Dr. Arshavir Gundjian, chair of the Nominating Committee, which included as members Hagop Alexanian and Ara Balian, reported the names of candidates proposed for the three renewable positions of the CB. He and Azadian praised the decades of service of Kevork Keushkerian, CB member who kept the Beshgeturian Center of Pasadena/Altadena active and renovated, and also organized many cultural activities and lectures (many of which he delivered). Keushkerian’s CB term was up and he chose not to run again.
The nominating committee proposed Ara Tcholakian of Las Vegas in Keushkerian’s seat. Tcholakian has been devoted to Armenian cultural affairs and TCA for much of his life and studied at the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) Melkonian Institute of Cyprus. He is the founder and CEO of Nevatronix, a leading digital signage, electronics, automated cash handling/payments and kiosk/software solutions company, and founder and CEO of Advanced Metal Works. Dr. Gundjian also submitted on behalf of the committee the names of two current CB members, Carl Bardakian and Arto Manoukian, for reelection, after highlighting their accomplishments.
All three candidates were elected unanimously for CB terms renewable at each TCA convention.
The Dicran Simsarian Committee this year was chaired by Kevork Keushkerian, with members Noubar Babikian and Sossy Yogurtian. Keushkerian announced that the Simsarian Trophy went to Maro Bedrosian and the Sponsor a Teacher program in recognition of its ongoing success over two decades.
Words of Thanks
Hagop Vartivarian, chair of the Courtesies Committee, which included Shahnour Hovsepian and Rita Balyozian as its members, read resolutions in appreciation of the work of the CB and its president, the seven TCA chapters of North America, the Sponsor a Teacher program led by Maro Bedrosian, Arto Manoukian’s efforts to help those affected by the 44-day war, the TCA Mher Megerdchian Theatrical Group on its 25th anniversary, and the TCA Publications Committee. Dr. Arshavir Gundjian was congratulated for his investiture as a member of the Order of Canada by Governor General Mary Simon. Further resolutions thanked all those who contributed to the fundraising efforts of TCA during the 44-day war via the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund, and the work of TCA Executive Director Aram Arkun, Executive Secretaries Mayda Kuredjian and Salpi Margossian, and Gayane Muratyan, Representative of the TCA of the US and Canada in Armenia, as well as the members of the Dr. Nubar Berberian Trust Fund Committee.
A moment of silence was held for all TCA members who had passed away since the last convention in 2019. The Courtesies Committee remembered the names of the following members: Dr. Haroutiun Arzoumanian, Nora Ipekian Azadian, Vartouhie Balian, Anahid Megerian, Loutfi Tabakian, Telma Ayaltin, Irma Der Stepanian, Hratch Manoukian, Ara Aharonian, Lucy Piligian and Missak Alexanian.
The Central Board made special mention of the success of the TCA 75th world anniversary gala organized this October by CB member Hilda Hartounian, who is chair of the TCA Greater NY Chapter, and her gala committee. It was an elegant affair that also was an opportunity to express the appreciation of all Armenians for the decades of efforts of Senator Robert Menendez on behalf of Armenian Americans.
Special thanks also went to the Montreal Chapter for organizing a combined celebration of the TCA 75th anniversary and Abaka weekly’s 47th anniversary with the presence of Armenia’s Ambassador to Canada Anahit Harutyunyan. Further 75th anniversary activities are planned this year, including a gala in December at the Beshgeturian Center in California. The TCA president encouraged all to participate.
The president congratulated the TCA chapters on their activities and thanked all the participants of the Zoom convention for attending. The convention closed with the promise that next year the TCA delegates would meet in person, barring a worsening of pandemic conditions.