From L to R: Theo Dimarhos, Maria Efkarpidis, John Efkarpidis, Nick Karagiannidis and Filia Karagiannidis

It may have started as a social club, intended for people who belong to a unique historical, social and linguistic heritage but there is more to the newest association recently established in Canberra.

 The Canberra Pontian Club, was set up primarily for the purposes of being the social unifying centre and a cultural outlet for those in Canberra and the areas around it hailing form Pontus or Pontos, a region that is occupying the south of the Black Sea in today’s north of Turkey.

 This was an area that was reached by the Greeks around 1000 BC, and has remained Hellenic in cultural and ethnographic terms until the first quarter of the 20th century and its inhabitants have been known as the ‘Pontians’. The trip of Jason and the Argonauts, the adventures of Ulysses in the country of the Cimmerians, the punishment of Prometheus by Zeus and the arresting of his body to the mountains of Caucasus, the sailing of Hercules on the Black Sea, testify the connection between the mainland Greeks with those living in the southern coast of the Black Sea.

 However the history and culture of the Pontians came to a tragic end after the persecution they faced by the Turkish state which by the early 1920s turned into a full scale genocide. The ultimate historical is station for the Pontians remains the treaty of Lausanne in 1923. This treaty brought about the forceful expulsion of Greek people living on Turkish territory; a process referred to as the ‘the Catastrophe of Asia Minor’.

 Beyond this dense historical background, the Canberra Pontian Club, remains forever guided by and devoted to the vision of the late Tom Efkarpidis, he whom the community refers to as the “Great Pontian”. His tireless efforts to maintain this tradition alive form the direction and the backbone of the Canberra Pontian Club.

 With so many profound historical and personal points of reference, the Canberra Pontian Club promises to be an agent and a catalyst of cohesion and reflection for those who can appreciate the necessity that becomes history in the years ahead, with social, cultural and political expression of these concerns as its central manifesto.

 For more information contact the President of the Canberra Pontian Club John Efkarpidis at president@canberrapontianclub.org.au.


The Year that was, review of 2008


Dear friends,

Since our beginnings as the Pontian Club in Canberra back in October 2006, we have established both presence and participation in the national and international Pontian activities and agenda.

Indeed, the Canberra Pontian Club was represented at the international event of last year. In Athens on 4-6 July 2008, the 8th AGM International Confederation of Pontian Greeks was convened.

At the gathering, I also met the fellow Australian Pontians, Harry Tavlaridis,  the President of the Federation of the Pontian Associations of Australia, Peter Jasonides as Alternate President of the Federation of Pontian Associations of Australia and Peter Papoulidis from the Pontian Association of NSW Panagia Soumela.

It was an amazing and overwhelming experience for me to meet with delegates from all over the world; USA, Germany, Russia, Lithuania, Georgia joined the great number of Greek participants.

More so the experience of meeting and speaking to two extraordinary Pontians: The author Christos Samouilidis with whom I have a personal connection, as he is my mother’s hero and the most famous living Pontian, the Russian born Pontian cosmonaut Fyodor Nikolayevich Yurchikhin, my personal HERO. This man was awe-inspiring and made me so proud to be Pontian. He spoke the following languages and in this order, Pontian, Russian (birth place), English and Greek (see Photo).  We are hoping to bring the Pontian to Australia and Canberra. I will be keeping you updated on developments on this.

For the Canberra Pontian Club, the event of the year was undeniably the hosting of the AGM for The Federation of Pontian Associations of Australia was held in the Orpheus Room Hellenic Club on the 28th September 2008.  The AGM was a success and as attended by at least one delegate from each State and Territory except Tasmania.

The year closed with me attending with Theo Dimarhos the 50th Anniversary Celebratory Dance for the Pontian Brotherhood of South Australia. A great night, a big event and a goal worth celebrating (50 plus years).

Along the way, we held the first Antipodean Pontian Houseboat Fishing Competition (I know you are thinking this is an event that should also stay in history) and engaged in all social and cultural events in Canberra.

With all this in mind, I greet you and wish you the best for this year while asking you to forever honour the sacrifices and memory of our Pontian people and the Lost Homelands.

John Efkarpidis