People

From Bosnia to Canada and Back: Farewell to Esmir Milavic

Esmir Milavic
Photo by Sajiography.

June 5, 2015 – Back in 2012, just after Surrey604 had launched, Fatima and I were covering the Party for the Planet concert at Central City plaza. I noticed this guy on Instagram who was also live-tweeting the event. I’d seen him online before, talking a lot about Surrey, so I DM’d him suggesting we meet. He replied, “come over, I’m right by the stage.” So we did.

He was there at the stage, very focused on taking pictures of the band, the Boom Booms. I tapped him on the shoulder, he turned and we shook hands. The Boom Booms have a great name, because they were very loud and we could not hear each other, but we managed to communicate through screaming. His name was Esmir Milavic, an immigrant and journalist from Bosnia.

Esmir joined our Surrey604 team that very day. We had a lot of chats over beers at the Central City brew pub, our unofficial office back in those early days. Esmir told me terrible stories about being a young child during the Bosnian war of the 1990s, during which he lived without electricity. In one chilling incident, he got separated from his family. Just a little boy then, Esmir walked through the main square of his village, Mostar, which was full of dead bodies. His father was held in a Prisoner of War camp. The day he was released, a sniper shot him as he walked home. Luckily, his father survived, although has since passed.

Fatima and I sort of adopted Esmir into our family as a brother, or “evil twin” as he calls it. He even made a WhatsApp group for us called “Family”, and we spend our holidays together.

Esmir Milavic can be a very abrasive, opinionated and harsh bastard, and when he’s like that, we laugh because it’s all jokes! That russian-sounding Bosnian accent makes anything sound hilarious. We love that crazy guy, and we attended the ceremony when he became a Canadian citizen back in 2013.

English version of creepy rude ventriloquist-dummy-like Bosnian @esmirmilavic

A video posted by Daman (Beatler) Beatty (@damanbeatty) on


A political news fanatic, Esmir is a voracious reader and media consumer. I think he consumes about 5 newspapers and also 5 litres of coffee per day. He was very involved with the Surrey community and seemed to know every politician, activist and business person. With Surrey604, he took the very fitting role of Community Relations Strategist. He was deeply involved with everything happening here and sat on a Social Policy Advisory Committee enhancing the social well-being of Surrey residents. He attended every council meeting, and often appeared on GlobalTV and CKNW to speak about various Surrey related topics. Since we’ve known Esmir, he’s also been working remotely with a television station in Sarajevo called FaceTV. A couple of months back, Esmir told me that he accepted a full time position there. After 8 years in Canada, my evil twin was moving back to Bosnia. We were very sad to hear he was leaving, but this will be an amazing opportunity for him and his family will be so happy to have him back. Fatima, Esmir and Daman Esmir, Fatima and I at a dinner for Sonu Niigaam in 2012. Aziz Dhamani photo. esmir-fatima-paddlewheeler Fatima and Esmir on a Fraser River paddleboat in 2012. esmir-citizenship 2013: Esmir’s Canadian citizenship ceremony (Barinder Rasode, me, Esmir, Linda Hepner, Linda Stromberg). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWkKjY6A0_c 2014: Esmir speaking about violent crime in Newton on Global TV. esmir-facetv 2014: Esmir reporting from Canada on FaceTV Bosnia. esmir-daman-and-fatima 2013: At the Surrey Community Forum with Fatima and Esmir. esmir-reporting 2014: Esmir reporting on municipal elections with reporters from the Surrey Now. surrey-election-night-esmir-daman Esmir and I on election night, 2014. I drove Esmir to the airport on Thursday and he’s now back in the homeland. So this week we say goodbye to our brother Esmir and wish him the best. Thanks for everything buddy. We look forward to seeing you on Bosnian television. goodbye-esmir-milavic Esmir at the airport, about to leave Canada. The truth is though, we know that Esmir isn’t really disappearing, he’s just relocating. He will be all over social media, texting and Skyping me all the time. Rather than say goodbye, I’d like to introduce you to our new foreign correspondent and honorary member in Bosnia, Esmir Milavic!

UPDATE July 26, 2015: Photos from Bosnia

Here’s some photos Esmir has shared since arriving at FaceTV in Sarajevo and visiting his nearby hometown of Mostar…

@nudzys me uslikala dok smo pili prvu kafu nakon godina čekanja 🙂 #nofilter

A photo posted by Esmir Milavic (@esmirmilavic) on

Above: Esmir looking very happy at FaceTV headquarters in Sarajevo.

Selfie s mojom @lanastanisic osobom koja život čini mnogo ljepšim i zanimljivijim mjestom

A photo posted by Esmir Milavic (@esmirmilavic) on


Above: With Lana Stanišić, FaceTV Editor of Entertainment and Culture Department.

Konačno #selfie s @damirmasic u #Sarajevo na terasi @facetv #friends #prijatelji

A photo posted by Esmir Milavic (@esmirmilavic) on

Above: Esmir with former Minister of Education and friend Damir.

#OldBridge #latergram #Mostar

A photo posted by Esmir Milavic (@esmirmilavic) on

Above: The old bridge of Mostar in Esmir’s home town.

esmir-interviews-jasmin-mujanovic-face-tv
Above: Political analyst and doctoral candidate at York University in Toronto Jasmin Mujanović in talks with Esmir of FACE TV about the referendum in RS, the Russian and Serbian (do not) support, European Union policy towards Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Federation authorities.

Daman Beatty
The creator of Surrey604.com, Daman Beatty (AKA 'Beatler') is originally from Sackville, New Brunswick. A longtime media producer, visual designer, marketing and communications specialist, Daman loves travel, technology and being a Daddy.
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