Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Ode to Kristina

My wife was awarded the Bulgarian Medal and Certificate of Honour!

On February 16, 2013, Kristina Kristova was officially recognised by the Bulgarian Government — the Agency for Bulgarians Abroad — with the national Paisii Hilendarski Memorable Medal and Certificate of Honour. The Certificate states: 'for her significant contribution to the preservation and promotion of the Bulgarian culture and traditions in Canada, for her dedicated work as the founder and leader of the Bulgarian Society in the Capital Region Ottawa-Gatineau, and to celebrate her 70th year jubilee'.  See 70 event photos.

Medal inscription: 'Bulgarians, know your roots and language.'

In 2000, the Bulgarian Government decreed to issue an annual state award to creators and performers whose works are connected with Bulgarian culture, history and traditions. The award was named for monk Saint Paisii Hilendarski (1722-1773), a national historic spiritual leader, peoples' revivalist and confessor, and founder of the Bulgarian Renaissance. While in monastery (1760-1762) he created the Slav-Bulgarian History — Istoriya Slavyanobolgarskaya — which stimulated the formation of Bulgarian national consciousness.

80 attended, with some from Montreal. Kristina's daughter Milena Krassi was honoured to be the event master of ceremonies at the Bulgarian Embassy, Ottawa, where the celebration took place. During the evening program of speeches, slide shows, and poetry, I added my poem (below). Delicious Bulgarian food was prepared by local volunteers. The first president of the Ottawa Bulgarian Community, Vasil Gatchev, called me an 'Honourary Bulgarian'. See 70 event photos.

My Ode to Kristina — a World Citizen

As friend, companion, husband of Kristina —
there is much to say about this interesting person.

Her Bulgarian experience as anchor person on
National TV for more than 20 years,
shows through in her personality.
In editing some of my draft writings, her comments are
appreciated for setting the logic straight,
for being concise, and for showing me
how creative words can impact the message on the public stage.
Her genius in grasping a thought, even in English,
often means rewriting what I considered to be a final draft.

As a pioneer in the local Bulgarian Community,
I have seen her selfless energy at work —
phoning, writing on the computer,
calling compatriots to preserve traditional language and culture,
and urging them to bring their best foot forward
in a multicultural Canada.

That same energy I have seen with other activities —
selling watches and jewelry to eBay customers,
working for a high-tech company,
selling designer clothes, and recently
working as Site Administrator of the International Languages Program on Saturdays.

In all of these works, quality has been her goal.
This often means a long day —
working into the early hours of the morning.
I would of course be called to help —
carry this, copy that, deliver this, take photos,
or help edit a letter in English. With her enthusiasm and good intent,
how could I not help?

Shopping for me with Kristina has been most frustrating.
Why? Because our styles differ.
I generally know what I am looking for, and I go for it;
while her approach is to look and look and look
for something ‘perfect’.
But as we all know, perfection is difficult or impossible to achieve.

In our 20-plus years together
I have seen how adaptable Kristina is.
Learning the English language from practically zero
has been a challenging task. And thanks to her she helped me with my Russian.
Unfortunately, I have not yet learned the Bulgarian language, but
have had to rely much on observation, listening, and instinct.
However, I very much appreciate and admire
the friendship of Kristina and members of the Bulgarian community in Ottawa.

Of course, I have noticed Kristina’s nostalgia for Bulgaria and Europe.
For her, Ottawa at times feels like a small village.
Periodically she reminds me that I came from Saskatchewan —
a country boy born on an isolated farm without any modern conveniences,
35 miles away from the nearest large city.

But for Kristina to be born in the centre of Sofia,
it is natural for her to see herself at the front of things.
Achieving great success in folk dancing,
Master of Ceremonies in thousands of concerts,
and as Anchor Person on TV,
this style has become her tempo in life.
Nostalgia for Kristina in an earlier active life style is normal.

Her Medal of Honour from the Bulgarian Government is long overdue.
Like the Order of Canada in this country, she deserves the respect of
her countrymen and women.
She deserves it —
because she has served well in giving generously to her mother land
just as she is contributing generously today to her adopted country.

My ode to Kristina —
a colourful person of our wonderful world community.
Obicham te!   (I love you!)

How we met

Kristina Kristova and I first met 21 years ago on Russian Christmas day in Ottawa, Canada, January 7, 1992 at a social gathering. We spoke in Russian. She was a news anchor for Bulgarian National TV who had come to Canada to sign a contract with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in Toronto. Kristina was staying in Ottawa, Canada, where her daughter Milena was getting a Bachelor's Degree in Music at the University of Ottawa, and is now a flute and piano teacher.

Kristina was born in Sofia, Bulgaria during the height of World War II. She was folk dancer with the state folklore ensemble founded and led by Fillip Kutev. During the Cold War the group performed around the world; and, in 1963 toured 25 states in the USA, including Carnegie Hall in New York, and two cities in Canada (Montreal and Ottawa).

In 1968, at the age 26, Kristina won a competition out of about 1,000 candidates which led her to a career as the Anchor Person of the Bulgarian National Television. As a representative of Bulgarian TV abroad, she went to dozens of countries, including Greece, North Korea, and Afghanistan for which she received an Order of Bravery for her interviews on the streets of Kabul. Besides news, she was the Master of Ceremonies for over 7,000 concerts and festivals all over Bulgaria. In brief, Kristina was a very busy person in that small, historically rich and beautiful country called Bulgaria.

From 1995 (when the Ottawa Bulgarian organization was registered) to the present, Kristina was a member of the Board of Directors. From 2004 to 2007 and from 2011 to 2013 she has been President of the National Capital Region Bulgarian Community as well as the Ottawa Region Bulgarian Foundation.

More Views of Kristina

Anna Tzvetkova of Montreal, who was Kristina's colleague at the University of Sofia, Bulgaria, submitted this article with 4 photos to the Bulgarian language newspaper Trud [Labour]: Драги зрители, Христина Христова чукна 70! [Dear viewers, Kristina Kristova has reached 70!] (February 23, 2013). Two photos show her at work in Bulgaria.


  1. Congratulations, Kristina, on this most deserved honour! It was a pleasure to learn about it, and to read Koozma's poem and biographical sketch of your life. I wish you and Koozma many more years of creative endeavours to come!
    --John Woodsworth, Member, Literary Translators' Association of Canada.

  2. Congratulations Kristina, on this recognition!
    And congratulations to Koozma, for being a tireless help mate on your life together in Canada.
    I wish you both many happy cooperative years together!

  3. Anna Tzvetkova, Montreal, Quebec22 February 2013 at 23:21

    Христина, опитах се да прибавя в блока на мъжа ти коментар, но не успях, не знам защо. Ако той може нека го прибави. Ето го:

    Kristina, I was happy to see you many years after ours student’s years. You are the same girl who radiates the spirituality and mental wealth. You met a husband who deserves you with his love and appreciation. You have this big family – the Bulgarian community in Ottawa. Like every blessed woman you have your daughter around you. You have the Bulgarian recognition with the medal “Paisii Hilendarski” for your contribution to keep and distribute Bulgarian culture.
    With all this you’re the richest woman in the world.
    Be happy, Kristina.
    От сърце ти пожелавам щастие, Христина.
    Anna Tzvetkova