Introducing Chad Eggerman, Honorary Consul of Finland in Saskatoon
Our article series introducing Honorary Consuls of Finland in Canada continues with Chad Eggerman. Mr. Eggerman was appointed as the Honorary Consul of Finland in Saskatoon in 2013. In 2015, the Northwest Territories were added to his mandate. Finland is very close to Eggerman’s heart as he called it home for almost seven years and is married to a Finn.
Chad Eggerman is a business lawyer at MLT Aikins LLP in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He practices in the areas of real estate, construction, environment, financing and Indigenous law. In the early 2000s Chad resided in Finland for seven years. During that time, he worked at a leading Northern European business law firm based in Helsinki, Finland, and Stockholm, Sweden. He also holds a Master of Laws degree from the University of Helsinki.
1. How did you end up as an Honorary Consul for Finland?
I lived in Finland for nearly seven years. During my time in Helsinki I co-founded a company teaching lawyers legal English and worked at one of the largest law firms in Finland. I moved back to Canada in order to further develop my legal practice to be more client-facing. Back home in Saskatchewan with my wife, who is originally from Finland, I knew I wanted to take the opportunity to give back something to Finland in gratitude and appreciation for the amazing opportunities and experiences Finland provided for me.
I became Honorary Consul by contacting various Finnish ambassadors in Ottawa to let them know I was available, qualified and eager to repay Finland for all it has provided to me. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to former Ambassador Charles Murto and his wife Ritva for hosting me and my family in Ottawa on a number of occasions and making various visits to the Province of Saskatchewan during their posting. Charles and Ritva really exemplify for me the best characteristics of a diplomat and Finland and I was grateful to spend time with them.
2. What do you enjoy most in your role as an Honorary Consul?
Every year, I host an annual reception to celebrate Finnish Independence Day and many Finns living in Saskatoon as well as Finnish exchange students attending the University of Saskatchewan take part in this event. I enjoy talking with Finnish students, many whom have never been outside Europe before, about their experiences in Western Canada.
3. What is Finland known for in your area?
The most well-known Finn in Saskatchewan is Tom Sukanen (born Tomi Jaanus Alankola in 1878) who was a Finnish-born sailor and farmer in Saskatchewan. Tomi built a sea-worthy boat to sail from Saskatchewan (located in the heart of North America) through Hudson Bay and back to his native land of Finland. Some consider it a tragic tale, but I see the positive aspect to Tom's life as his perseverance and resolve, demonstrates one of Finland's most admirable traits as a nation – the ability to continue on, even when continuing on is impossible.
Tom Sukanen has been the inspiration for a number of plays and artworks which I would encourage you to check out. Ken Mitchell's play ‘The Shipbuilder’ is based on Sukanen's story, as is Andreas Schroeder's novel, ‘Dustship Glory’. The 2009 film ‘Sisu’, directed and written by Chrystene R. Ells and the 1985 short film ‘Shipbuilder’ by Stephen Surjik are both retellings of his story. Tomi Jaanus Alankola is the namesake of the Sukanen Ship Pioneer Village and Museum near Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan – a must-visit for Finns and friends of Finland in Western Canada. Visit their website for more information.
4. What do you wish people in your area knew more about Finland?
I welcome more dialogue in Saskatchewan about the Finnish education system and generally the importance of education in promoting economic development. This is something that Finland understood and embraced many years ago. It has benefited the country significantly in my view and there is much people in Saskatchewan can learn.
5. What does your area have to offer for Finns or Finnish companies?
Saskatchewan offers plenty of space and privacy. Homes and acreages in cities and rural areas in Saskatchewan are generally larger, better appointed and cheaper than other areas. Although Saskatchewan has suffered in the commodities downturn since 2014, the economy has recovered and is now fairly robust with new jobs being created and the population of Saskatchewan continuing to increase. When measured by GDP per capita, Saskatchewan continues to be a wealthier province than other areas and second only to the neighboring province of Alberta within Canada.
Overall, the availability of relatively cheap and good housing and more wealth than most other provinces in Canada leads to better economic opportunities for Finns and Finnish companies. Saskatchewan also has a habit of producing incredible project managers, many of whom are working across the world managing some of the largest and most complicated projects. I think the preponderance of excellent project managers comes from a combination of being good-natured, well-educated and very hard-working – what many employers now call “collaborative”.
6. What is your favorite Finnish word or expression? Why?
Viipurinkatu – it was the street I lived on in Helsinki and was close to Linnanmäki amusement park. At the time I lived on Viipurinkatu, I had no idea that my own three children would one day visit Linnanmäki amusement park with their Finnish cousins and family. We look forward to visiting Linnanmäki amusement park again next year at the meeting of the Honorary Consuls of North America.
Finland has about 400 honorary consulates around the world of which 14 in Canada. Within the scope of their specific geographical area, Finland's Honorary Consuls in Canada monitor the rights of Finns and foreigners permanently residing in Finland. Together with diplomatic missions, an honorary consul promotes economic and cultural relations between Finland and Canada, and takes part in strengthening Finland’s image abroad. An honorary consul can advise Finnish companies, for instance, in obtaining information about local business culture and in finding contacts.
Certain types of notarized certificates can be acquired through an honorary consul. Honorary consuls do not accept passport applications nor do they handle matters pertaining to visas or residence permits. Honorary consuls cannot serve as attorneys in judicial proceedings or as legal advisers.
Honorary consuls are private individuals who take care of their tasks on a part-time basis without remuneration.