Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Where I'm From - Part 1

So, My name is Matthew Kalinauskas. I have red hair and fair skin... and I live in Canada. I am not Irish, though I do tend to fit right in on St. Patrick's Day, and I am not Greek (I get that a lot, for some reason). I thought it would be fun to do three little pieces on my ancestry and here is piece one. I am 1/4 Austrian (that's where the red hair is from), 1/4 French/French Canadian, 1/2 Lithuanian (that's where I got the last name from), and 100% Awesome! I mean, Canadian. That still sounded lame. Either way, I'm sure the National Geographic Human Genome Project would tell me I'm from Asia or something anyway.

I looked for a long time to try and find the meaning of the name "Kalinauskas" and from what I can tell, it seems as though my family was named after a flowering tree or something. It's nothing crazy or heroic, but I like it. And it's long which makes it fun hearing people try to sound out my name when they have to read it out for the first time.

"Is it, Kalimakus?"
"No, just sound it out. Every letter counts."
"NO! Okay, just like in grade one. KA"
"How about just Matt K?"
"Sure, whatever."

I get my Lithuanian roots from my dad's side. His parents came to Toronto after World War 2. They both passed away before I was born, but sometimes I'll say or do something and my mom and dad will say that is exactly something your tÄ—vukas (grand father) would say/do. I like hearing that. It's usually when I would have done something good, so it's nice to know he was a good guy. My dad's parents met here in the Toronto Lithuanian community, which is actually quite substantial. There's a park in the city called Lithuania Park. There are also two Lithuanian Catholic Churches, a credit union and bunch of other stuff. I was born in Toronto, but we moved up to the country when I was only four years old. If we stayed down in the city, I'm told I would have been put in Lithuanian school (Saturday mornings... not fun) and I would have been involved in the community and stuff (which would have been more fun). I always envy my friends who are part of an ethnic community. It seems like a neat common understanding they all have amongst their group. I'm just on the fridge, holding on by my last name. Needless to say I don't speak any Lithuanian other than hello, thank you, and thank you very much. Not an extensive vocabulary.

Well, that's part of me! The Lithuanian part! I'll have more later



Amanda said...

Hey Matt! I'm part of a Lithuanian credit union in Toronto! Maybe it's the same one as you :p

AJ Martin said...

My Baltic Brother!

My story is similar. Grandparents fled Estonia during WW2 and met at a refugee camp in Sweden.

Unlike your story, I grew up in Toronto and EVERY Saturday was dragged (kicking and screaming) to Estonian school. Turned out to be beneficial on my trips back to the motherland, but I hated it at the time.

Another plus? Playing hockey for the Estonian men's hockey team. I will never have the chance to play for team Canada, so playing for the Estos in the Baltic cup (3 time champs!) is my big leagues.

I also enjoy the cheap banking at the Estonian Credit Union!

nickwatson said...

I am not luthuanian, that is all. Did you print any t-shirts yet?

Anonymous said...

I'm 100% lithuanian and live in Toronto. Its too bad you're not part of the community because we always have a great time! I encourage you to visit Lithuania and learn the language too (although its one of the hardest to learn:P).
I was dragged to saturday school when I was younger, but I am soooo thankful I was and as I got older I realised its not that bad! Lithuanian has helped me in so many ways!