VASILIOS-BILL FATSIS ΒΑΣΙΛΗΣ ΦΑΤΣΗΣ Nov 2016
TRIBUTE TO HIS WORSHIP JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
VASILIOS-BILL FATSIS ΒΑΣΙΛΗΣ ΦΑΤΣΗΣ
"PERHAPS JUSTICE IS BLIND, BUT ONTARIO HAS A MULTICULTURAL VISION"
The above comment was made by His Worship Justice of the Peace, VASILIOS-BILL FATSIS ΒΑΣΙΛΗΣ ΦΑΤΣΗΣ, during his swear-in ceremony to the Bench of the Ontario Court of Justice.
What did His Worship see to be able to incorporate the word multicultural in this statement?
In our opinion, Canada is the most multicultural country in the world.
It is evidenced everywhere. Within the population of Canada are people of all nationalities, cultures, religions, colours and ethnicities.
Apparently, Mr. Fatsis not only graduated from different universities, but he is a student of the great Greek Philosopher, Socrates, internationally known as the founder of Western Philosophy; his advice to Judges is as follows:
That a judge:
MUST HEAR WITH COURTESY,
AND DECIDE IMPARTIALLY.
We are not here to analyze Socrates because that would be a massive undertaking.
Nevertheless, Mr. Fatsis fulfilled his mission by becoming a judge not only to be recognized by the Greek community but also in the Courts he served.
Evidence of the recognition from the judicial system is that on November 30, 2016, he was surrounded by 150 members of the Ontario Court of Justice in London, Ontario, among them was the Associate Chief Justice Co-Ordinator for the Justice of the Peace Bench, the Honourable Faith Finnestad who presented him with a plaque recognizing his
“outstanding contribution to the Justice System” in Ontario, Canada.
The event was during the Court’s official dinner for the Fall Conference of the Court where, among others, the retirement of His Worship Bill Fatsis was honoured.
In another event his colleagues, near his base-court at 1000 Finch and Dufferin in Toronto’s Criminal Court, gathered at the restaurant “Mr. Greek” to pay tribute to and recognize the retirement of His Worships Bill Fatsis and Paul Kowarsky, both of whom their local administrative Justice HW S. Weisberg described as the “two legal lights”.
The big question on the minds of many was why Mr. Fatsis chose to retire seven years prior to the official retirement age of judges at 75?
In a statement published in several publications Mr. Fatsis said
“There comes a time in a person’s professional career when he feels that he reached the level of service he wanted to arrive at and then decide what other priorities in his life remain to be fulfilled.
I feel that this moment for me has arrived now”.
Mr. Bill Fatsis during his adult life has served as a volunteer in all of Toronto’s major Greek Canadian organizations, has been a journalist in the Greek Canadian print and electronic media and has been adjudicating important cases not only in the Ontario Court of Justice but also with Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada-in the Appeals Division- and also as a member of the Health Professions Review and Appeal Board of Ontario.
For his services to his community and the Canadian Society in general he received, under the signature of Canada’s Governor General, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal.
Let us look at the path of his life a little better.
In 1945, at the end of World War II, the Civil War began in Greece creating more casualties than the WW II.
Shortly thereafter, in August of 1949, his father became a casualty of the Civil War.
His mother Iordana ended up a single widow-mother with five children to look after.
Just prior to his father death the word "paidomazoma" was created for the first time breaking every parent’s heart.
The word means collecting children and sending them to other countries like Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania, Russia and other “iron curtain” communist countries.
Three of her children were taken to these countries.
The fact is that the combination of WWII and the Civil War in Greece left thousands of children orphans.
We pause here for a moment to give light to this situation.
The best illustration of the word "paidomazoma" is for one to view the film “Eleni” which was made in 1985 by CBS,
Based on the biography of its author Nikolas Gage (Nikolas Gatzogiannis) who was a victim of this situation.
Eleni was cited by Ronald Reagan as an inspiration for his summit meetings to end the arms race with the Soviet Union.
Eleni, has been translated into 32 languages, was awarded first prize by the Royal Society of Literature of Great Britain.
And was nominated in the category of best biography by the National Book Critics Circle.
It is the most powerful film, starring John Malkovich, Kate Nelligan, Linda Hunt Oliver Cotton Ronald Pickup and Glenne Headly. about the Greek Civil War portraying in detail the impact and the effects of that era.
We are very fortunate to be able to find the film “Eleni” with Greek subtitles.
(Coincidentally, we are also acquainted with Mr. Jim Kottas, who was also part of the “paidomazoma” from Prosvoro in north Greece who wrote about it in a book, since he is an accomplished Greek author.)
Just after the Civil War, in 1954 the international Red Cross and the Greek government negotiated the return of the “paidomazoma” children.
Two of Mr. Fatsis’ siblings returned when his brother was only 16.
Later in 1960 his brother Chris immigrated to Canada and in 1966 sponsored his brother Bill.
Meanwhile back in Greece Bill Fatsis graduated from Elementary School with honours making him eligible for entrance into High School located in the town of Florina which he completed with honours, obtaining a Scholarship.
He was assisted financially in his studies from the sponsorship of an American foster mother who forwarded, through his mother, 240 drachmas every month along with some clothing every Christmas and Easter.
The amount of 240 drachmas was not really a lot of money, but it was considered a big help for the family.
Needless to say Mr. Fatsis was never allowed to meet and thank this lady.
Grateful for her assistance, however, Mr. Fatsis has imitated her sponsorship and for more than 30 years has continuously sponsored a needy child through Canada’s World Vision’s child support programs.
In 1966, following his admission to the Law School of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, during his first year he joined his brother in Canada.
Since then their mother and all of her children, along with their families, were sponsored to Canada and live here.
In 1968, he entered the University of Toronto and completed in 1972 a four-year honours degree in Political Science and Humanities and later a diploma as an audit student at Osgood Law School in Advanced Immigration Law.
During his years at U of T, he was the president of the Greek Student Association and also the president of “Greek Students For a Free Greece” following the military dictatorship in Greece in 1967.
He continued his education and later got a Diploma as an adjudicator from SOAR (Society of Adjudicators and Regulators of Ontario) and extensive legal training in Administrative and Criminal Matters.
Also in 1972, he married Elizabeth Louvouloudis and have two children, son Nikolas and daughter Anna, and four grand children.
During his wedding ceremony Bill met his other sister for the first time (he was not born when the paidomazoma happened)
Mr. Fatsis was working as a dishwasher and in other menial jobs throughout university and during the early years entering the workforce.
His first professional job was in 1980 as an Administrative and Legislative Assistant to Ontario’s Minister of Labour in the Bill Davis government.
During his Liberal government years, he joined his Minister who had become The Chairman of the Worker’s Compensation Board, and he became a specialist in the WCB’s Communications Department.
After a year he was appointed to Canada’s Appeals Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board.
He then served as a member of Ontario’s Health Professions Appeal and Review Board.
In March 2003 he joined the Ontario Court of Justice.
Parallel to the above paid jobs, he spent an enormous amount of time dedicated to community work within the Greek and other Communitys , where he served as a volunteer for many community organizations either as a President or as a Member .
This includes the Greek Community of Metropolitan Toronto,
The Ontario Federation of Greek Societies,
and many other organizations and cultural activities.
He is well known as a community journalist, through his very successful radio program, Hellenic Syntrophia [meaning Greek gathering].
He was the co-founder of the Evdomada Greek Canadian weekly newspaper and
co-founder of the Greek TV “Odyssey Television Network”.
His responsibilities were hosting or producing the shows.
If we were to continue the subject of Bill Fatsis’ involvement in communitys contributions and the amount of people whom he has helped over the years we would probably need a few more pages to write about him.
We had the opportunity to observe a Bail hearing case at his base court at 1000 Finch West Ontario Court of Justice without mentioning names, time period, colour or religion, we have to state the following.;
He was presiding at a case of a young man around 26 to 28 years old.
He was serving pre-trial custody in jail for robbery.
In one area of the court there were approximately 10 to 15 members of the young man’s family, including his mother.
The rest of the audience were members of other cases to follow.
As the case was going forward, the defence lawyer was speaking slowly for more than 15 or 20 minutes in favour of the young man explaining to the Judge that he had changed for the better during his period of incarceration, and stressed that the family was willing to protect him from criminal activity, and foster positive changes in his lifestyle.
Upon completion of his narration, it was the time for the Prosecutor to present the final argument.
Apparently, she did a very good job presenting her case, and to everyone’s mind her presentation was so convincing that it appeared to everyone that the Judge had no option but to detain the young offender until his trial date.
As we looked around the courtroom, especially at the group of family members, we noticed the agony in their facial expressions, and the possibility of not seeing the young man free for a very long time.
The young man was following the proceedings carefully by listening to what each had to say.
Finally, it was time for Judge Fatsis to render his decision.
To everyone’s mind the case did not look that good for the young man.
The entire courtroom was silent.
All the while Judge Fatsis was looking down, and in our opinion, seemed focused on papers on his bench.
Sometime later, he began speaking, narrating his decision by saying that he was releasing the young man based on facts that he would do anything possible to obtain permanent employment and that he was restricted to his mother’s dwelling and could only leave when accompanied by a family member, no alcohol unless accompanied with a meal in a restaurant.
Furthermore to report to the authorities once required to do so.
These were only a few of the restrictions imposed.
It should be noted that each restriction was accepted by the members of the family based on their facial expressions.
Upon completing his judgement, the entire court room stood up for his exit.
When we left the court room we briefly discussed the case among ourselves.
Of course, each person had a different opinion.
However, we came to the conclusion that Judge Fatsis had studied the case in-depth and despite a strong case presented by the prosecution, he saw something in the young man’s eyes and evaluated the testimony of all the witnesses - family members in the process.
There was a consensus that his decision was justified.
In the end, we stressed among ourselves, who are we to have an opinion.
PHOTO OF ELIZABETH VETA FATSIS
Anna, his daughter is married and she manages the office of her husband’s very successful building and construction business.
His son Nicholas, on the other hand, after graduating with a BA degree from York University, continued his education receiving a Diploma as Provincial and Municipal Prosecutor.
Nicholas Fatsis In 2016, he received recognition in his role as a case-management co-ordinator at the Criminal Court, at Eglinton and Warden, and received the “Award of Excellence” from the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Director of the Crown’s office at this Ontario Court of Justice.
PHOTO OF NICHOLAS FATSIS is married and recently became the father of a young son.
We were about to complete this article with the above sentence, however, we have to include two other significant events in Bill Fatsis' life during this momentus year, 2016.
What a wonderfully long life, God rest her soul.
In Bill Fatsis' eyes, his mother was a hero, enduring hardship and turmoil, renuiting the family over the years and guiding each child in the right direction.
In fact he mentioned the above words in 2003 at his swearing in ceremony into the Justice System.
Secondly, this does not relate to the Justice System but to a very well known, well-respected and well-liked personality in the Greek Community.
We refer to his brother Mr. Christos Fatsis.
Mr. Christos Fatsis was not only the brother who sponsored Bill Fatsis and his siblings, but was also the sponsor of many other relatives.
He extended accommodation, helped them to find jobs, begin business ventures, etc., etc.
He helped both individuals and organizations in need within the Greek Community.
The news of his passing after only four days from admission to the hospital on October 14, 2016, was totally unexpected.
At his funeral a few days later, the Greek Community Church of St. Dimitrios was filled to capacity.
It was one of the biggest funerals that we have attended..
Everyone in attendance had something nice to say about Christos.
This was not just a family-type of funeral.
The whole community was affected by the news of his sudden death especially because just a few weeks ago, upon his return from summer vacation in Greece, he was in perfect health enjoying the last few days in Vatahori, Greece, his birthplace.
Obviously, this has been devastating to members of the Fatsis family whom Christos had personally sponsored to Canada, and especially tragic for Bill since he considered Christos as “the father figure”.
“Chris was known for his big heart, his loving and caring nature, his outgoing personality and his unrelenting passion for helping others.”
Despite the sadness associated with the loss of both Iordana and Christos, we would like to close by saying the following.
His Worship Bill Fatsis has just retired and according to many, he is not the type of man who will indulge in gardening or go fishing.
His retirement was accepted but he can still contribute to his court as a per diem justice.
Regardless of the kind of cases he is asked to preside over, in our opinion Mr. Bill Fatsis due to his love for the fellow man, woman, and sincere interest in minority rights.
If we were in different era he would be well placed to preside even in a big case like the Judgment of Nuremberg.
When we say complicated cases, we would like to be more clear with a referral to one example of high matters, for example,
The Judgment of Nuremberg which is an excellent film made by Stanley Kramer, with a cast consisting of Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Maximillan Schell, Montgomery Clift, Judy Garland and Spencer Tracy as a retired judge.
Rumours has it that Mr. Fatsis was asked, and has begun writing his Memoirs with a focus in community work and ethnic media, immigrant politics and the justice system.
He has all the tools, knowledge and energy of a great statesperson, and we are thinking that maybe he will surprise us one day by announcing that he will be re-entering the Political Arena, or who knows he could be nominated for the Order of Canada or the next Governor General of Canada.
After all, in 1982 he became well-known across Canada when he won the Nomination against the former editor and owner of the “Toronto Sun” Newspaper, Peter Worthington, in Toronto’s Broadview Greenwood Federal By-Election by strongly defending Canada’s Multicultural Policy, and Minority rights.
We wish him the best of everything not only for the Greek Community but to all ethnicities in Canada and the future of our country.
Regards The FlyerMall Team