Armen Topouzian, the late John Kchikian, and the Nor Zartonk Movement to Be Honored with Special Awards
DETROIT, Mich.—Armenian National Committee of America Eastern Region (ANCA-ER) has announced three special awards to be bestowed at the 9th Annual Banquet in Detroit, Mich. It is the first time that the ANCA-ER banquet is organized in the Midwest.
“The Armenian-American community in the Midwest is one of the oldest, diverse, and dynamic ones in the United States,” said ANC of Michigan Chair Lara Nercessian. “We have many champions of the Armenian Cause in Detroit and want to highlight and show our appreciation to as many as we can. This year’s awardees are an inspiration and serve a great example to our young generation to carry the torch of truth and justice forward.”
Keeping Vahan Cardashian’s Spirit Alive
This year Armen Topouzian will receive the ANCA-ER Vahan Cardashian Award, which is given annually to an ANCA supporter who demonstrates longstanding dedication and active involvement in the Armenian-American community and its issues. The award is named for Yale-educated lawyer Vahan Cardashian, who set aside his successful New York practice to dedicate himself to the establishment of the Armenian Committee for the Independence of Armenia (ACIA), predecessor organization to the Armenian National Committee, and to advocate for the plight of the Armenian nation.
“Armen Topouzian has dedicated his life to improving not only his home community in the United States, but more importantly to Armenia and Artsakh,” said ANCA-ER Banquet Committee Co-chair and ANCA-ER Board Member Hovig Kouyoumdjian. “Mr. Topouzian embodies the best qualities of a humanitarian as well as a patriot, and we should honor and thank our community members who work tirelessly day and night to fulfill Vahan Cardashian’s and all of our dream of a free, independent, and united Armenia.”
Armen Topouzian grew up in Utica, New York. Following his term of service in the United States Army (Aberdeen, Maryland), Armen worked for General Electric, Westinghouse, Continental Aviation, Packard and eventually Ford Motor Company over thirty years.
Armen was an active member of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) and a great athlete, eventually receiving the AYF Olympic King award in 1961. He met his wife, Norma at an AYF Olympics. He has been an active member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) since he was 18 years old, serving in the Woodrow Wilson Gomideh and Detroit “Azadamard” Gomideh in various roles including as Chairman for several years.
Since 1975, Armen has been active in raising funds and providing medical needs and hospital equipment for the Armenian people. In 1997, he took his first trip to Armenia. “I went to Armenia and Karabagh to learn and help our people” he once said. When he returned, his work began in both raising funds and sponsoring the Armenian Relief Society’s (ARS) “Soseh Mangabardez” program in Republic of Artsakh. From 2000-2005, he also sponsored twelve children (Armenia and Karabagh) from the ARS of Eastern USA. Since that initial trip, Armen has taken over 30 trips to Armenia and Artsakh.
“Blessed be He Whose Work Survives the Ages”
This year ANCA-ER will honor the late John Warushan Kchikian with the ANCA-ER Legacy Award, which is presented to individuals who have left a lasting legacy on issues important to the Armenian-American community, Armenia, Artsakh, and beyond.
“Warushan made a significant impact in Detroit metropolitan area on so many levels, including helping to uphold the Armenian Community Center and support different local organizations. His reach was not just in Detroit—Armenia and Karabagh were his passion. He lived and breathed the Armenian Cause and Hai Tahd every day,” said Detroit Armenian Community Center Chair and Banquet Committee Member Raffi Ourlian.
John Kchikian was born on Dec. 29, 1934 in Novorossiysk, Russia to a family of architects well-known in the Ottoman Turkish Empire that survived the Armenian Genocide of 1915. John and his parents were taken to Germany as slave laborers. Following the war, the family was housed in a refugee camp for displaced Armenians, who were under the penalty of death if they returned to Russia.
In 1949, John’s family immigrated to the United States and settled in Detroit, Mich. where John and his family started a successful business enterprise. In his later years John and his wife Sima moved to Florida to enjoy retirement. John joined the ARF in his early years, and always supported the organization, believing that it was his duty and honor to be a part of it.
Throughout his life, John never forgot his Armenian people. John was instrumental and worked very hard to assist the local Armenian community in building and paying off the Armenian Community Center and starting the ARS Day School. He was always generous to the local Armenian programs and organizations in Metro-Detroit.
However, John’s true passion was his Homeland of Armenia. He focused on humanitarian relief efforts for Nagorno-Karabagh where he founded the Armenian Children’s Fund. Some of the accomplishments were bringing drinking water to villages and building schools. In addition, John also provided medical and financial assistance to sick children, so the children can get the best medical treatment. He also was instrumental in helping the Armenians in Spitak and Gyumri with his generous donations and help when a devastating earthquake hit the country in 1988.
John strongly supported Hai Tahd and the mission of ANCA. Sadly, John Warushan Kchikian passed away unexpectedly on June 29, 2006 in Beverly Hills, Mich., but his legacy lives on with all of us to this day. As Hovhannes Toumanian famously wrote in his poem, “Blessed be he whose work survives the ages.”
A New Awakening, a New Beginning… in Turkey
ANCA-ER Activism Award will be presented to Sayat Tekir on behalf of Nor Zartonk Movement in Turkey. The Activism Award is presented to individuals and organizations who work towards enhancement of human rights, democracy, truth, and justice in the United States, Armenia, Artsakh, Turkey, and beyond.
“Nor Zartonk’s mission of promoting equality, justice, democracy and peace as fundamental values is something we all strive for, but the difference is they are living this mission on a daily basis,” said ANCA-ER Board Member Tsoleen Sarian. “Presenting the ANCA-ER Activism Award to their Spokesperson Sayat Tekir not only acknowledges and honors their hard work and perseverance, but it also inspires us, reminding of our obligations to lift our voices and work towards the promotion of human rights.”
Nor Zartonk (New Renaissance) is a human rights group based in Turkey that contributes to the social and cultural development of the society and plays an active role in achieving peace and welfare. The organization assists individuals to recognize equality, justice, democracy and peace as fundamental values and contributes the understanding of human rights as a whole without any kind of discrimination.
In recent times, Nor Zartonk has actively worked on projects such as returning Camp Armen to the Armenian community of Turkey. The organization is also active in the elections and civil society activities in the country. One of the main priorities of the organization includes the official affirmation of the Armenian Genocide by the Turkish government and education of the Turkish society on the subject.
While in the United States, Tekir will also makes stops in Los Angeles, New York, and Boston to meet with the respective communities and talk about the activities of Nor Zartonk in Turkey. A separate announcement will be released soon detailing his upcoming visits.
The banquet, sponsored by the ANCA Eastern Region Endowment Fund, will begin with an elegant cocktail reception and silent auction at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and awards ceremony at 7:30 p.m. on Sat., Nov. 14. Tickets for the banquet are $150. To purchase tickets and make donations, please, visit the secure payment portal: www.ancaef.org/banquet.
The event will take place in the heart of Detroit at the prestigious Westin Book Cadillac Hotel located at the corner of State Street and Detroit’s Washington Boulevard, once dubbed the Fifth Avenue of the Midwest. For details on hotel reservations, call 1-800-241-3333 and reference “ANCA” to get the reduced rate of $149/night for the rooms. Additional information about the banquet is available at: https://er.anca.org/banquet/.
The ANCA Eastern Region Endowment Fund is a 501(c)(3) charitable and educational organization that supports the ANCA Eastern Region in outreach to Armenian-American communities.