Swedish Press March 2021 Sample

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Swedish Press N Y A



Swedes in the Megacity of Toronto


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March 2021 Vol 92:02 $9.95

02 2021

Salming’s Love Letter to Toronto Förtrollad by Karin Raoul Wallenberg

The Corporate Hub of Swedish Canada By Kajsa Norman

Historically, the majority of Swedish Canadians settled in Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver, but these days Toronto attracts the most Swedish newcomers to Canada. It is also where the largest number of Swedish businesses are found.

oronto is Canada’s biggest city and North America’s fourth biggest, behind Mexico City, New York, and Los Angeles. It is also one of the most multicultural urban centres in the world. After World War II, in the 1950s and 1960s, an increasing number of Swedish companies opened Canadian subsidiaries, often choosing Toronto as their base. Swedish corporate giants like Ericsson, Volvo, Tetra Pak, Alfa Laval, SKF, A newly installed 3D TORONTO Sandvik, IKEA, and Atlas Sign at Nathan Phillips Square. Copco all established a © Destination Toronto presence. “When the Swedish-Canadian Chamber of Commerce was founded in Toronto in 1965 there were more Swedish subsidiaries than today. All of them, even the smallest, had a Swede as their CEO or Chief Financial Officer, or both,” says Lars Henriksson, Honorary Swedish Consul in Toronto. The Swedish executives brought their families and staff, and soon a Swedish community flourished. A Swedish Church was founded in 1953, followed by other organizations aiming to preserve Swedish heritage or provide a sense of community. SWEA Toronto was established in 1982 and the following year the Swedish School was started. However, as

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the world became increasingly global, Swedish companies no longer deemed it necessary to have a Swede at the top. “Now, most executives of Swedish companies in Canada are Canadian, or part of the internal corporate rotation, regardless of nationality. Mergers and acquisitions have also meant that there are fewer companies overall,” says Henriksson. Today, Swedish companies in Canada operate in many market sectors, ranging from the mining, automotive, and Information The Toronto Stock Exchange & Communications Techbuilding in the financial district. nology (ICT) industries to © Destination Toronto retail and consumer goods. The largest cluster of Swedish companies in Canada work with industrial goods, serving the ICT sector or with technology equipment and engineering products. While there may be fewer Swedish executives, Swedish companies still tend to emphasise their Swedish roots in their branding. However, the attractiveness of the Swedish brand has taken a slight dip lately. In a study conducted by the Swedish-Canadian Chamber of Commerce (SCCC) in 2018, as many as 86 percent of participating companies believed their Swedish connection would have a positive impact on business. In 2020, that number had fallen to 73 percent.

“One reason for a more moderate response could be the attention and sometimes negative publicity the Swedish government received from the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020,” says Marie Larsson, Executive Director at SCCC. The pandemic has also adversely affected how Swedish companies perceive the current business climate in Canada. In 2018, 80 percent of companies were satisfied or very satisfied with doing business in Canada. In 2020, only 30 percent found the business climate to be good or very good. That said, the pandemic has also created new opportunities where Sweden and Swedish companies are well poised to lead the way. “Recurring lock-downs of societies and businesses, significant decrease in international and domestic travel as well as prioritized health and wellbeing have allowed governments, companies and individuals to realize the opportunities for change that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented as the imminent threat of climate change becomes more and more tangible,” says Christina Keighren, Country Manager at Business Sweden – The Swedish Trade & Invest Council based in Toronto. Around the world, many countries are taking this opportunity to focus their financial post-COVID-19 recovery plans around green initiatives. Several green A family explores the tunnel at stimulus announcements Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. in Europe and Asia seem to © Destination Toronto signal that we are in for an increased shift to a sustainable, low-carbon economy. And this is an area where Sweden is at the forefront. Sweden consistently ranks high in global sustainable competitiveness and sustainable development indexes. “Despite being a small country, Sweden is well positioned to generate a large impact globally when it comes to sustainability and innovation,” says Keighren. Compared to Sweden, North America and Canada lag in their efforts to stimulate a green recovery. That said, increased environmental consciousness is on the rise. Canada is committed to meeting the Paris Agreement goals by

2030, and under the leadership of President Joe Biden, the US is back on board. “Canada, a country still dependent on fossil fuel, is committed to its goal of net zero emissions by 2050. In its Throne Speech last September, the Canadian government introduced many new initiatives focusing on economic recovery with a clear mandate to increase efforts fighting climate change,” says Keighren. In Sweden, there are also initiatives to make the country the first fossil-free welfare nation in the world by increasing the pace of the climate transition. “Sweden has had a successful track record for the past 30 years of decoupling growth from CO2 emissions with ambitious targets for 2045,” says Keighren. But the best thing about this race is that no matter what country reaches zero first, everybody wins. “As we recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and get ready to seize new opportunities, we see significant Canadian resources focusing on innovation in areas such as renewable energy and clean technology, advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and life sciences. These ambitions align well with Swedish expertise and create opportunities for companies to enter the Canadian market in many Epiroc’s new Batteries as a Service different sectors,” says (BaaS) agreement. Photo courtesy Keighren. of Epiroc One example of a Swedish corporation leading the energy transition is Epiroc. As mining companies continue to strive for sustainable productivity and zero emissions, Batteries as a Service (BaaS) will become an increasingly critical component. In the middle of the pandemic, Epiroc Canada and Vale created history with the world’s first BaaS agreement whereby Epiroc will provide Vale with ten battery electric vehicles for two Canadian mine sites. Epiroc will also replace and update the battery units as needed. “We value and look forward to continuing our successful partnership with Vale as we move towards a zero emissions future in mining together,” says Jason Smith, General Manager of Epiroc Canada.

Photo: Roxana Gonzalez Leyva

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New Toronto Minister to Serve All of North America Interviewed by Kajsa Norman

All photos courtesy of Maria Thorsson

Meet Maria Thorsson, the newly appointed pastor for the Swedish Church in Toronto. Her mission is to serve Swedes across all of North America.


o boldly go where no one has gone before” reads a tattoo on the left upper arm of Maria Thorsson, the new pastor for the Swedish Church in Toronto. “People often assume it’s a Bible quote, but it’s actually from Star Trek,” she laughs. When asked why she

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identifies so strongly with the sci-fishow, she explains, “Their mission is to explore unexplored territory, not just in a geographical sense, but also spiritually.” That is an approach to life that Maria has taken to heart both personally as well as professionally. Born in Skurup in southern Skåne, Maria has spent the better part of the past two decades working as a pastor around the world in places such as Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, the Netherlands, the UK, and Africa. She has also completed several deployments as military chaplain with the Swedish Armed Forces in Timbuktu, Mali. The mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, has been dubbed the world’s most dangerous UN mission with more than 200 peacekeepers killed since its inception in 2013. Here, even pastors have to undergo combat training before deployment and be heavily armed whenever leaving the camp. For a minister to be constantly armed and ready for battle may seem incongruous, but Maria has given it a great deal of consideration. “I believe the most important part is that you’ve really thought it through before deploying. I felt like I’m sure


most soldiers feel; I don’t ever want to take somebody’s life, but if I end up in a situation where I have to pull the trigger in order to protect the group and myself, I will. There are missions in which the pastor isn’t armed, but instead they have bodyguards. For me it makes no difference if I take the shot or if someone else does it for me. The end result is the same.” Sweden hasn’t suffered any casualties in Mali thus far, but it falls on the minister to make sure there is a refrigerated container and coffins ready if needed. Their presence act as a constant reminder of the risks involved. And for some, the proximity of death can become a gateway to faith. Several of the soldiers who had been raised as non-believers took an interest in existential questions in Mali. Some even found God with Maria shepherding them through religious studies to Christian confirmations in the camp. All told, the experience proved among the most rewarding of her life. “Mali transformed me as a human being. It was incredibly humbling to witness how people who live in appalling conditions, and who have been subjected to so much suffering,



are still able to maintain faith in the future. I’ve reflected a great deal on that during the weeks I’ve spent in quarantine over the past few months. It has helped me to put things into perspective,” she says. A strong believer in dialogue, Maria was also the first Swedish minister to reach out to religious leaders of different faiths and denominations in the ancient city of Timbuktu, once an important center for Muslim scholars. “Sometimes we fail to see things because we are so stuck in our own ways of interpreting reality. I believe it’s important to have the courage to question one’s norms and framework every so often. That doesn’t always mean we’re wrong, but we have to be prepared to think outside the box and to change when necessary. Ours may not be the only truth or the only right way of doing things. As they say in Star Trek: ‘It’s life, but not as we know it’.” In North America, Maria will pioneer a brand-new position as mobile pastor. The Church of Sweden has a permanent presence in Toronto, Florida, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, and Washington D.C., but there are many other cities and states with large groups of Swedes



that completely lack representation. So, while Maria will be based in Toronto, she will travel the breadth and width of the continent doing her best to serve Swedes who lack a congregation of their own, providing services such as baptisms, confirmations, weddings and prison visits. “Just like we have mobile pastors in mainland Europe, Asia, and Africa, it’s time to introduce a similar concept for North America,” she says. “I really enjoy working for SKUT (Church of Sweden Abroad) because it’s so open and one gets to do a bit of everything. Sometimes I wish all congregations in Sweden could be like that; a place where people gather to be together to talk about the mundane as well as the spiritual,” she says. However, it’s not all about work for Maria. She also enjoys sports, such as skiing, sailing and soccer (Malmö FF). And she loves motorbikes. “I’ve had seven or eight bikes over the years, and they’ve all been named after characters or spaceships in Star Wars or Star Trek. My first bike was called Enterprise. Then there was Obi Wan Kenobi and Millennium Falcon, and I’ve also had a black sports bike called Darth Vader,” she laughs. There is no doubt that


Maria will be a welcome addition for the Swedish congregation in Toronto who has been forced to make do without a minister of its own since the outbreak of COVID-19. If you live in Toronto, visit the Facebook page of the church (https://www.facebook.com/ SvKyrkanToronto) for more information about upcoming services, and if you live elsewhere, you can always drop Maria a line at maria.thorsson@ svenskakyrkan.se to schedule a video call or perhaps even a visit. When spring is in the air and all the snow has melted, she’ll jump on her motorcycle and could very well show up in a town near you.

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Putting Sweden on the Map At Home

“Canada is fantastic! ...


Börje Salming’s Love Letter to Toronto Interviewed by Kajsa Norman

Photos courtesy of Börje Salming

“Canada is fantastic! I love Toronto and my fans there,” says hockey legend Börje Salming, whose most recent trip to the city almost cost him his life.


n early June 1973 Börje Salming arrived in Toronto for the first time together with his fiancée Margitta and fellow Brynäs player Inge Hammarström. It was only a few months earlier that a scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs watched as Salming lost his cool and flattened the referee during a game between Swedish Brynäs IF and Canadian amateur team the Barrie Flyers. When Salming was expelled from the game, the scout, Gerry McNamara, followed him into the changing room. Cursing his adversaries, Salming threw his stick in a corner.

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When he turned around, there was McNamara, business card in hand: “Would you like to come to Canada to play for the Maple Leafs?” Salming replied with the one English word he knew: “Yes.” Now, here he was on the other side of the Atlantic. “I kept wondering what I was doing here. I told myself not to be impressed, that I was dealing with flesh and blood people just like me,” writes Börje in his first autobiography Blood, Sweat and Hockey. “The skyscrapers whizzed by and the gentlemen were very friendly. The Maple Leafs worked hard to win us over.” Their efforts paid off. On November 10, 1973, Börje Salming threw off his gloves and fought the notorious Dave “The Hammer” Schultz from the infamous Philadelphia Flyers. It was only his second game in the NHL, but then and there Salming put an end to the reputation of Swedish players as being “Chicken Swedes”– cowardly players who couldn’t handle the physical play of the NHL. Hockey history would never be the same, and the gates were opened for the extensive transatlantic migration of Swedish ice hockey players to the NHL that we know today. For fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Salming’s arrival laid the foundations for a life-long love story. As their star defenceman, Salming played 16 seasons and

1099 games for the Maple Leafs, recording 148 goals and 620 assists. In 1996, Salming became the first Swedish player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and in 2015 he received his own bronze statue on Legends Row in Toronto. To this day, he can’t walk the streets of Toronto without being approached by countless fans, including children who should be too young to know his name. “When I visit with friends, I have to explain to them that Canadians are crazy like that; hockey is passed down through the generations. They never forget you,” Salming says. Salming and Margitta first moved to Mississauga, but the family later ended up in the city near High Park where they bought and renovated an old house. In 1989, Salming left the Maple Leafs to play his last season in the NHL for the Detroit Red Wings before returning to Sweden where he played for Swedish AIK until finally retiring from hockey in 1993. Although he has many favourite places in Toronto, it is the Maple Leaf Gardens he misses the most. It’s home to memories like the 1976 Canada Cup game between Team Sweden and Team USA. When the players were introduced, Salming, donning the Swedish Tre Kronor


... I love Toronto and my fans there.” Salming’s Toronto

jersey, received a thunderous five-minute standing ovation from his Toronto fans. “I was representing my country and Canadian fans gave me a standing ovation. Sometimes hockey has no country,” Salming remembers. He looked down at the ice then, humbled. Now, whenever he returns to the Gardens, his gaze turns towards the ceiling. A Loblaw’s grocery store sits where the ice used to be, but a new rink was built on the second floor, where Ryerson University’s hockey team plays beneath the old rafters he remembers so fondly. “The new [Scotia Bank] arena is incredible, but Maple Leaf Gardens was like a home to me. The people who worked there – the security guards, painters, carpenters, janitors, Zamboni drivers – they were all like family. Some of them had worked there for 30 years, and whenever I returned from my summer holidays in Sweden it was like coming home. I would run around in the catacombs hugging them all,” he reminisces. “I miss those homecomings. No arena can replace that.” As we speak over Facetime, Börje laments having had to cancel his usual February visit to Toronto. The reason, of course, is the pandemic. He is used to visiting the city multiple times a year and can’t wait

to get back. That said, his visit last winter almost killed him. “I almost always get sick when I return home from my trips to Canada, as I’m constantly hugging people, posing with them for photos and shaking hands. This time was the same. After my flight back from Toronto I developed a cough and a fever,” he says. Börje assumed it was just one of his regular colds, but one night he suddenly found himself unable to breathe. “I thought I was going to die. I’ve never been so scared in my life. It was like my throat closed over and I was gasping for air,” he says. His wife Pia called an ambulance and Salming was rushed to the hospital. He was never tested for COVID, but he is convinced that’s what he had. “It was like something I’ve never experienced before,” he says. Salming’s breathing improved and he was sent home the following day, but he remained bedridden for about a month. A year later, he now feels fully recovered but is going easy on his workouts and makes sure to maintain social distancing. While Börje’s next visit to Canada will have to wait, in his heart he will always be partly Canadian. “Canada is fantastic! I love Toronto and my fans there. I couldn’t have done it without them. They always treated me so well and still do. They received me with open arms and I just want to say: Thank you!”

Salming usually visits Toronto several times a year. These are his stomping grounds: Favorite Place to Stay: The Westin Harbour Castle, at the end of Yonge St on the Toronto Waterfront. Favorite Restaurant: Real Sports Bar, near Scotiabank Arena. “They have a massive screen and it’s a great place to watch games.” Favorite Places to Visit: Hockey Hall of Fame, Maple Leaf Gardens, Scotiabank Arena (formerly Air Canada Centre) home to Legends Row with bronze statues of hockey legends like Salming. The CN Tower. Favorite City Oasis: High Park. “I love walking in High Park when I need some time to myself.”

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