Arpi Azniv Meras (née Shamlian) was born June 5, 1936, in Istanbul. She was the youngest daughter of Ayda and Suren Shamlian. Her father was an Armenian Genocide survivor and founder of the Armenian newspaper, Marmara. As a teenager, Arpi attended the English High School for Girls in Istanbul, and at 15 her father passed away.
She moved to Brussels to live with her paternal aunt and uncle, who were also among the few Genocide survivors in the family. Several years later, in the mid-1950’s she moved to Paris.
Arpi was a very talented and accomplished pianist who was offered scholarships at many renowned schools in Europe. She attended the Conservatoire de Paris to study piano. Soon afterward, she met Meguerditch (Mego) Meras and they decided to move to Toronto. They married in 1957. In Toronto, her career as a professional pianist was cut short due to an accident that damaged her thumb.
Arpi loved working with children. She taught at the Armenian Saturday School and the ARS Summer School. Her passion for teaching led her to pursue a certificate in Early Childhood Education from Seneca College. In 1974, she opened Arpi Nursery School, and ever since its opening day, Arpi ensured that the school was known for its warm welcoming of children and families from diverse ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as for its compassionate and dedicated staff.
Arpi was also devoted to the preservation and celebration of the Armenian culture. Children from all over Toronto and the GTA came to Arpi Nursery School, the first Armenian day school in Toronto, to learn the Armenian language, and about Armenian history, culture, music, and dance. She directed the Armenia Dance Ensemble through which generations of children and adults have performed at local and international venues, such as Toronto’s Caravan. Following the Armenian earthquake in 1988, Arpi brought two groups of children to Toronto to allow them to recuperate from the catastrophic event.
Arpi is survived by her two sons, Suren and Saro Meras, and her five grandchildren: Armen, Aida, Lena, Kendra, and Alex. Arpi also leaves behind her niece, Hasmig Possian, and her grand-niece Amara Possian, daughter and granddaughter of Arpi’s late sister and brother-in-law, Seta and Bedros Zobyan.
It is impossible to try to write about all of Arpi’s achievements in such a short space. It is also just as impossible to count the number of lives she touched, for there is an ocean of people, around the world, who loved her, admired her, and were grateful for her.
A beautiful soul is never forgotten.
Գիշեր բարի, տիկին Մերաս.
Good night, Arpi.
We will always love you. Always.