Intervju

Bob Bratina INTERVIEW

1.       For years, you have shown your unconscious sympathy and love for our country Bosnia and Herzegovina. Can you tell us how it all started? Where did your great interest in Bosnia and Herzegovina come from?                                                                                                                                                                                   ----As a little boy growing up I loved tamburica music, and played my father’s records over and over again.  My favorite was Edo Ljubic, and I learned that he was from Bosnia, and my favorite songs of his were Bosnian….Ko Se Ono Brijegom Sece, Moj Dilbere, Dosla Drina Od Brijega Do Brijega, and so on.  So something inside connected me with Bosnia from my earliest memories.

 

2.       The city of Hamilton has more than a hundred different national groups, and among them are those who come from our homeland. Is there an inter-ethnic intolerance among them? What is the recipe for a cohabitation in which mutual respect, respect for the other is in the first place?

 

 

---There will always be some who don’t like others, whether it’s because they are of a different culture, religion, colour, or even for no good reason at all.  But on the whole, people in Hamilton get along with each other, work beside each other, go to school with each other, and even marry each other.  In fact, Sir John A. MacDonald High School in lower Hamilton was identified by UNESCO as one of the most diverse in the world.  I have relatives who have taught at that school for years and have not seen any real conflicts among the students, other than what would occur in any school anywhere.  Beach Road was the neighborhood where my parents grew up.  There was a Croatian Hall, a Serbian church and hall, and even for a while a Partizan hall, and I don’t recall any unpleasantness in the years our families lived there.  The recipe for this is hard to replicate in other countries because all of us from immigrant families knew that we owed our success to Canada, which also allowed us to keep our culture and traditions.  Minorities in other countries might actually be held back by the ruling group, but in Canada almost all have origins in other places.

 

 

 

         3.   Professor Emir Ramic, leader of the Bosnian community in Canada, and leader of Bosnian community in Hamilton, has done a lot for Bosnia and Canada. Many leaders and citizens in and out of Bosnia are proposing Emir Ramic for a particular Canadian recognition for his work. As his member of Parliament, are you planning to do so?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ---Professor Ramic is most deserving of recognition for his leadership in the Bosnian community, which he has carried out with distinction and integrity.   I am open to suggestions from the community as to the kind of recognition that would be appropriate,  which I will  determine as well.  For instance such recognition could come on a specific anniversary such as the date of recognition of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  In this way the honour can  be tied to  Hamilton, Canada, and B&H.

 

3.       Have you ever visited Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, Srebrenica?       

 

---I have visited Bosnia and Herzegovina, and of course Sarajevo on two occasions,  once in 1978 taking my grandfather back to his birthplace in Croatia, then touring the country, and in 1987 with my wife and son. We drove up the Neretva River from Metkovic to Mostar, then to Sarajevo,  both times staying  at the Hotel Evropa and visited the Grand Mosque,  Bascarsija,  the Olympic sites, etc.   We then drove up the Bosna River to Zenica,  and then on to Banja Luka, before returning home from Zagreb. 

 

         5.  Your origin is very interesting. Can you give us more details about your origins?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

               Grandfather Blaz Bratina, a Croatian Catholic,  was born in Veliki Vrh,  Croatia and first came to Braddock Pennsylvania in 1913 as a 15 year old to work with his father in the steel mill there.  He went back and forth a couple of times, got married, came back to the United States, then came to Canada in 1926 to work on the Welland Canal, and finally to Hamilton to work at Stelco.  My Grandmother and father came over in 1929 when my father was 7 years old.  My mother’s father Eli Glumac, a Serbian from Croatia, came to the United States in 1910 from Pavlovac, near Bjelovar.  My parents met and married in Hamilton in 1943.  There was never any issue raised about nationalities as we had friends and relatives from every country in the former Yugoslavia.  The only differences I saw, was in the recipes for sarma.

 

        6.     What is your message to politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina? What is your message to citizens and nations of Bosnia and Herzegovina?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ---            I would ask the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina to take pride in the beauty of your country, your culture and your people.  I have always enjoyed being with Bosnians at their celebrations, and have excellent relations with their community leaders.  Bosnians are honest hard-working people whose children here enjoy the richness of two cultures.  In B&H you must keep your politicians honest and hold them to their word.  Politics has to be about service to the people, not to your self.  There are great riches in the land of Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially in the quality of the people.   I know this because I know how well Bosnians have prospered here in Canada and the United States.   So it should be in the homeland. I can’t wait to make another visit, breathe the air and drink the water.  However I don’t want to grab a handful of kopriva like I did the last time!

 

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