When Andrea Javor was young, she would collect all the abandoned animals she could find and bring them home. This included dogs, parrots and, at times, up to 10 cats.
“My parents found good homes for them,” said the Croatian consul general with a smile while sitting in her Mississauga office on Aug. 27. “We couldn’t have so many animals at home.”
She then saw a photo of an animal that would steal her heart: an Old English Sheepdog. Her parents finally bought her one and that’s when it all started.
Over the years, Ms. Javor has managed to pursue her two passions: international relations and animals.
Ms. Javor and her husband, Davorin, have been breeding Old English Sheepdogs for many years, including some world champions. Their family, which includes daughter Nina, 17, and son Filip, 14, have three dogs of their own: Pipi, Gigi and Kiara.
Their latest litter was this past spring. Some stayed in Canada, some went to the United States and one went all the way to Denmark, a country where Ms. Javor once served.
Her journey as a diplomat began more than 20 years ago with a newspaper advertisement.
“It was the time of the war in Croatia and we were all looking how to help for the Croatian cause,” said the diplomat, who has been in Canada for about one year. “There was an ad in the newspapers asking for who wants to join the diplomatic service, so I applied for it. I passed the tests, so I entered the diplomatic service.”
Croatia, which was trying to break away from the former Yugoslavia, was building up its foreign service at the time. It was an interesting yet difficult task, said Ms. Javor, who was a secondary school teacher before joining the foreign ministry.
“There were some colleagues who came from the ministry from the ex-Yugoslavia, so they helped a lot. There were various people who were abroad, they came back. So we basically learned from the experience from other people, from other ministries. There were a lot of consultations with foreign countries,” she said.
After starting at the ministry in 1993, her first posting abroad was in 1996 in Chile where she worked on political, economic and diaspora matters. She then moved on to Denmark where she dealt with economic affairs.
Back in Croatia, Ms. Javor worked in the Croatian president’s office, first as assistant chief of protocol and then as chief of protocol. That involved organizing the president’s activities.
She also lectured on protocol and other issues at the ministry’s diplomatic academy.
“I enjoyed [it] because when you’re in protocol, you really have a lot of experience, a lot of things that you can transmit to young diplomats,” she said.
Small staff, much work
Ms. Javor is joined at the Mississauga consulate by three others: Ivana Crnić, consul; Aranka Lengyel, administrative assistant; and Ivica Anić, consular officer.
Ms. Crnić said they typically get about one visa request per day and many requests for Croatian citizenship, especially now that Croatia is part of the European Union.
While many foreign consulates are in downtown Toronto, the Croatian consulate sits in Mississauga, a location rooted in the past.
Even before Croatia gained independence, locals set up an office there helping people of Croatian origin, the two diplomats explained.
The Croatian diaspora is spread through Ontario, so the staff often travel to other cities to visit them. But the consulate’s location can be a challenge when it comes to attending events downtown, such as national day celebrations. Sometimes it takes two hours, other times 20 minutes.
One of the consulate’s main focuses is economic diplomacy and helping Croatia’s economy get back on its feet after years of recession, said Ms. Javor, adding that staff members work with the chamber of commerce to inform Canadian businesspeople about opportunities in Croatia. Pharmaceuticals is one area of Croatian exports they hope to boost.
Another focus is on the Croatian community. Much of this involves working with about 11 Croatian churches, which have become the “cornerstones” of the Croatian diaspora, said Ms. Javor.
Other work includes promoting Croatian culture and maintaining good ties with local and provincial governments in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories.
Toronto-based journalist and former Embassy staff writer Sneh Duggal writes columns for Embassy on foreign consulates in Canada.
Rapid fire with Croatia’s consul general
Red Lobster; good food, good atmosphere, I just like it. If you ask my husband, he would probably say Mandarin, because he can eat as much as he can.
If the weather is fine, we go for a walk with the dogs, we try to discover some new places, some new natural parks. We like nature a lot.
Most memorable moment?
I came here last year on the 15th of August. And on the 17th there was…one very big Croatian Catholic church holiday. And so the community gathered in this Croatian park and there were really a lot of people [3,000-5,000]. And this was really the first time that I saw so many Croatians [in] one place and it was really impressive. Then I got the impression [of] what I am going to do here.
If you could have any other job?
I would probably be a vet because I love animals.