Recently the Macedonian community was privileged to have its own film festival. This historic event would not have been possible without the vision, dedication and experience of Virginia Evans.
Virginia Andreoff was born in Toronto to parents from D’mbeni and Drenoveni in Aegean Macedonia. During her early years she lived in the St. Clair and Dufferin area in Toronto and attended St. Cyril and Methody church. Her family owned a shoe repair business but after a financial setback, they moved to Tecumseh, near Windsor, Ontario until Virginia was 21.
Upon her return to Toronto she began working as a legal secretary and over the years she was employed in a variety of fields including advertising, marketing and research. Work, marriage and raising her two children kept her very busy, but in the 1980’s she began her active involvement in the Macedonian community. Shortly after the inception of the Canadian Macedonian Historical Society, she became a member and is currently the co-president. Through her involvement in the historical society she was able to use her organizational skills and talents to plan many book talks, lectures and special events such as From Baba’s Hope Chest and the screening of Milcho Manchevski’s film Dust.
An enthusiastic supporter of the arts, she has volunteered her time in numerous artistic ventures in both the Macedonian and Canadian communities. Virginia has volunteered at the Toronto International Film Festival, Hot Docs Film Festival and ran a community theatre group for 13 years. She was the production manager for Oro Makedonsko I and II and she produced an awards show at the Metro Convention Centre for the Association of Community Theatres. As well, she played an instrumental role in the creation of a special award, the Thea, for amateur theatre. With the Daughters of Macedonia, she introduced Daughters’ Days where accomplished Macedonian women in the arts were brought together to share their experiences
After raising her children she returned to school to pursue a personal dream, to earn her Bachelor of Arts degree and after nine years of juggling work, family responsibilities and volunteer work, she graduated from York University in 2001. Her lifelong interest and love of books, especially about Macedonia resulted in her association with various Macedonian authors and publishers. Ever the visionary and entrepreneur, she began a small home-based business making these books, previously difficult to come by, available to Macedonians in North America.
In 2004, Virginia traveled to Australia to meet with the publisher of Pollitecon books and while there she became acquainted with many of the Australian-Macedonian “movers and shakers” and their organizations. She was able to speak to a group of high school students studying Macedonian and to interview the authors of Children of a Bird Goddess.
Virginia will continue to be a driving force in the Macedonian community because she is continuously dreaming of ways of bringing the community together in celebratory events. With her passion and commitment our “mover and shaker” is to be congratulated for her work in the Macedonian community and for bringing the first Macedonian Film Festival to Toronto.