Finland's ambassador to Canada, Charles Murto, says he feels right at home when he visits Northern Ontario.
“Finnish is widely spoken, and that's quite exceptional,” he said. “I've lived in many countries, and in no other country have I had the opportunity to use Finnish as often.”
The northern landscape of the Canadian Shield is also very similar to that of his homeland.
It was appropriate, then, that Sudbury's Huntington University announced the launch of the Canadian Finnish Institute Thursday.
The institute, which is the first of its kind in Canada, will help enhance the relationships between the peoples of Canada and Finland.
“This is a great idea,” said Murto, who was in Sudbury for the launch event.
Huntington University president and vice-chancellor Kevin McCormick used some of his own personal funds to create an endowment for the institute.
“Passion is important and our institute is based on passion,” he said. “I wanted find a way a give back.”
McCormick named Ambassador Murto as a member of the inaugural class of the Canadian Finnish Institute's fellowship program.
The institute will also launch a scholarship for a student who has demonstrated excellence in furthering the links between Finland and Canada.
McCormick said he hopes the institute can help facilitate “meaningful and vibrant discussions” between Canadians and Finns.