The Armenian Church Youth Organization of Canada (ACYOC)
By: Talin Orfali Ghazarian
The Armenian Church Youth Organization of Canada (ACYOC) was established in 1984. In the diaspora where Armenians are situated outside of Armenia. As Armenians began to establish themselves in Canada, it became an important and integral part to develop a sense of community and belonging.
ACYOC brought Armenian youth and young adults together to create life-long friendships, to establish committees, conduct meetings, create events in both a social and spiritual aspect for All to enjoy and participate in. The main events of a course of a year are sports weekends, banquets, palm Sunday luncheon, camping trips, retreats and meetings held in different provinces with the presence of clergy. We also conducted other events throughout the year as well. We also went to the United States to have weekend retreats in Chicago, New York and other areas and to make friends with ACYOA Members Armenian Church Youth Organization of America.
From West Coast to the East Coast, we have chapters from Vancouver, Edmonton/Calgary, Toronto, Mississauga, Golden Horseshoe, St. Catharines, Montreal and Laval. The main headquarters for ACYOC was in Montreal at St. Gregory The Illuminator Church.
Our life-long friendships are still blossoming to this day. We often think about all the great times and memories from events, meetings and everything else in between. Some met each other, became couples and got married. It is evident that ACYOC became a positive and happy organization to strengthen bonds and preserve our community. People ages from 14-35 participated in events and also some joined committees. There were two groups. Jr. and Sr. ACYOC committees. To this day we still talk about our memories.
As an ACYOC committee member when I was communications director, writer, keeping track of meetings, advertising events, creating event flyers, emailing and also being a Chairperson for a time which was incredibly amazing. I got to travel to Vancouver, Montreal, Laval, Mississauga for events and gatherings and we used to have meetings in Kingston, Ontario which is half way between Toronto and Montreal. Created many fond memories, and I still have all the pictures from all our events.
You can say that I am very sentimental and keep these memories in my heart and life as it was a big portion of it as a teenager and well into my 20’s. In recent years, we lost touch with ACYOC, but definitely not with each other. That was solely because a lot of people moved onto creating families of their own and some moved away.
I joined ACYOC in 2002/2003 and I was in the committee every year until 2010/2011. They were the best and memorable years. I remember it was my birthday weekend and we had a meeting in Kingston, Ontario, so our whole group took me to Montreal to celebrate and met up with our friends in Montreal for an awesome weekend. I’ll never forget that. Awesome memories that I still remember like it was yesterday. So you can say I have had a lot of experience.
I have been thinking about ACYOC quite a lot more these days is because I want to jump start it again, create committees, look for enthusiastic Armenian youth and young adults across Canada in our chapters to give the new generation a chance to participate and find joy, life-long friendships as we did. It is very important to me.
Back then, social media had just begun. I remember sending emails out and starting groups to make it easier for Armenians to find us and see who we are. Hopefully in the coming months we will reintroduce ACYOC once again and I will be there to assist and to give guidance and share my experiences with this generation.
I am very excited to be working hard to make this a vibrant community once again. Are you in? I am! Let’s do this!