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Nygard’s Roots

The Clifton Review 


The Clifton Review is a tri-weekly column that examines the question of the Clifton project along with the evolution of the war between two billionaires. We covered the start of this war with articles describing the battle over easement rights, the mysterious burning of a home, the blocks to rebuilding, and countless questionable court filings.


The 2018 series salutes fashion mogul Peter Nygård’s Golden Jubilee detailing his rags to riches story and incredible business success over these past fifty years. The Clifton Review will take an inside look at how he did it. 


Nygard’s Roots


By P.J. Malone


Lots of people who live in what’s referred to as the Western world, take a lot for granted in terms of the freedom that its citizens enjoy.


In a number of countries around the world, such freedoms are not a given, especially in communist countries. Individuals born in these countries and nearby are always aware of this fact, including fashion mogul Peter Nygard.


As he once stated, “When I walk through my business and the places that I have, I say, ‘my God, are you ever a lucky guy’. Am I ever lucky that I was born in Finland instead of Estonia, that I was born on the right side of the Iron Curtain.”


The reason this is a big deal is obvious when you take a look at the map of the former Soviet Union. After World War II, a number of smaller countries on Russia’s western border was taken over by Russia and incorporated into the Soviet Union at that time and made communist.


There are several times in Finland’s history where Russia tried to take over Finland. And even though Russia always had far superior forces, Finland was always able to fend them off.


So, due to Finland’s ‘Sisu’ spirit—which spurs a Finn to be brave, resolute and determined to fight against all odds—Finland has remained out of Russia’s clutches and avoided becoming a communist country.


Imagine what Finland would have been like if it was under communist rule. A subjugated country produces an entirely difference experience for its citizens.


Feeling lucky that you are born in Finland instead of a country that was subjugated by Russia is totally understandable for Peter Nygard. Having been born in Finland, it gave him the foundation that developed his character and allowed him to achieve the business success that he has achieved over the years.


For this reason, Nygard has been especially grateful to the soldiers of Finland who always stood up against Russia and ensured Finland’s freedom. Despite his family moving to Canada in 1952, Peter has never forgotten his roots.


He has returned to Finland a number of times and showed his gratitude in a number of ways. One of his most precious memories formed during a special visit to Finland.


In 1994, Peter Nygard and his Mom, Hilkka, returned to his beloved Finland for a visit. He wanted to find a way to pay homage to the veterans of the Winter War in Finland, to show his gratitude for their bravery and Sisu spirit that allowed them to stop the Russians and allowed Finland to maintain its independence.


Peter took a former Miss Finland with him to visit the war veterans home. A Finnish newspaper described how the veterans were moved at being remembered and one teary-eyed veteran in particular had made it out of the Winter War, but was injured by grenades afterwards in 1944.


The Finnish article also described Peter’s love for his birth country and that the veterans were always close to his heart. It explains how he attributes his own success to the veterans and their fight for Finland’s freedom. Nygard often remembers the veterans referencing them in various speeches he has given around the globe.


He apparently spent hours visiting with them and was brought to tears several times, especially when he met a general who was severely injured three times during the war.


Nygard wanted to be sure to address the veterans concerns and wishes and pledged donations to the Finnish Veteran’s Home. Over the years, he has continued to donate to various veteran causes in Finland.


It may be difficult to imagine if you haven’t lived in a country with limited freedoms, but it can make all the difference in the world.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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