Anita Smiley on the history of Finnish immigration and settlement in Windham County

05/10/2019 - 7:00 pm
Community Room of the Canterbury, CT Town Hall
1 Municipal Drive - Canterbury, CT 06331

There will be a brief business session at 7:00 pm, followed by the program & refreshments.
Free and open to the public.

Anita (Häkkilä) Smiley. Photo by Norwich Bulletin

If you reside anywhere near to Canterbury, you surely know at least a little something about our area’s vibrant local Finnish heritage. This program is a deeper dive.

Anita (Häkkilä) Smiley was born to Finnish immigrant parents in the very lively Finnish community of Canterbury, Connecticut. Finnish was spoken at home. Her selection as an International Farm (4-H) Youth Exchange (IFYE) delegate to Finland for six months in 1956 strengthened her Finnish roots and led to her giving presentations on Finland, her involvement in Finnish-American endeavors, and a passion for organizing group tours to Finland.

Mrs. Smiley’s career, spanning 40 years as a secondary and community college business educator, included serving on the board of the Connecticut Business Educators Association as secretary and president.

Involvement with her Finnish heritage includes 30 years on the board of the Finnish American Heritage Society in Canterbury, where she served three years as president; founder in 1989 of FinnFunn Weekends in the Northeast and serving as co-chair for seven years of those weekends, serving on the committee for FinnFest ’98 held in Maine; and 17 years as a Finlandia Foundation National trustee, during which time she held the positions of secretary for eight years and four years as president. Coordinating numerous group tours in the United States and overseas, including dozens of tours to Finland, has been an important pastime.

Anita holds dual citizenship in Finland and the United States. She was honored in 2016 as the recipient of the Cross of Merit of the Order of the White Rose of Finland by President Sauli Niinistö.

You’re Invited!
Canterbury Historical Society monthly programs are free and the public is warmly invited. Bring a friend, stay for complimentary refreshments, mingle, and get to know us a little. We will do our best to make you feel welcome. The business session, which begins at 7:00, rarely lasts more than half an hour. If you want to skip it and just come for the program, plan to arrive about 7:30.

The Canterbury Historical Society’s regular monthly meetings are on the second Friday evening of the month, except for July and August, when we take a summer break. We are happy to send email announcements of regular meetings and special events to nonmembers. If you’d like to be added to our list, please send a note, including your full name and the email address where you want to receive notices,  using the email form on the Contact page on this website.

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Canterbury Historical Society