How Sarnia’s Italian-Canadian Community Has Preserved its Story

December 6, 2014 at 12:57 pm
I am the daughter of an Italian immigrant from southern Lazio (Ciociaria) who was raised in a small Ontario city called Sarnia.   As in so many towns and cities across Canada we had a church (now closed) that provided mass in Italian from 1956-2008 and was a centre where the newly arrived Italians congregated.   In addition an Italian-Canadian Club was formed in 1957. In our home my parents told us many stories about their journey to Canada, why they immigrated, their struggles to rebuild their home and how life was in the “old country.”  As children we would also listen to stories when people came to visit or we visited newly arrived paesani. Nearly everyone who was part of this Italian community came from rural roots and very humble origins and from “Ciociaria”. In my early thirties I tried to find documentation about this Italian-Canadian presence in Sarnia, but to my surprise there was none to found. It looked as if it would be up to us, members of the community to research and write our own story.   The problem was figuring out how do we go about this, and whether other cities across Ontario had done this type of work.  Remember this was in the late 1980’s before computers were common tools for communication. The first thing we did was to bring together interested members of the community and leaders within the community. Included in this group was the Italian- Parish priest, some high-school teachers of Italian origin, high school students and others who had an interest. We gathered, formed a committee and met on various occasions to discuss a strategy of engagement.  The students researched microfilms at the library from newspaper articles etc.   We found that there were experts in Toronto and after a few tries we connected with an expert who was willing to assist us.  He gave us a protocol and methodology to follow. Others on the committee were given tasks such as, organize interviews and collect documents, which were dropped off at the church, organize the material and a team who compiled the story.  We raised some funds locally to help with this project.  This group organized workshops for high school students, created a pictorial exhibit of the materials and then wrote the publication “One by one…Passo dopo passo”  History of Italian Community in Sarnia-Lambton 1870-1990. Here we are 25 years later working on adding to this story in Sarnia.  It is important that we individually and collectively take responsibility to preserve this history because it is our legacy as Italian-Canadians and our history as Canadians. But more needs to be done on a National scale and that is why ICAP exists. - Caroline Di Cocco The book is available through carolinedicocco@gmail.com, in the National Library of Canada and in the local book store, the Book Keeper, in Sarnia.
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Developing the London, Ontario Model to Preserve the Story of Italian Canadians in London.

December 6, 2014 at 12:46 pm
In Summer 2014, Professor Antonio Calcagno convened an initial meeting with various people of the Italian-Canadian community in London to gather information about the work and history of the Italian-Canadian presence in London, Ontario. Much information came forward and people were very willing to help out in various ways. As a result, another meeting was scheduled for the Fall, with key members of the community, to continue discussing next steps. In preparation for this meeting, Antonio Calcagno and Caroline di Cocco of ICAP met at the end of the summer to share what had been done in other communities and to discuss the next steps for London, Ontario. The second community meeting was held with representatives of the Marconi Club at King's College on 8 October 2014. At this meeting the facilitating work of ICAP was explained. All present agreed there was urgency to collecting and preserving recordss of the Italian-Canadian community in London. It was also acknowledged that this responsibility rested with the community members themselves. At this meeting it was agreed that a larger community committee should be formed to bring together leaders in five key areas: academia, religion, arts and culture, business, and social/community. These people were identified and will be contacted to attend a general meeting where the work of ICAP will be discussed and the actual work of identifying, collecting, cataloguing and storing of relevant materials can be organized. Additionally, the third general meeting will discuss further the delegation of tasks such as a) writing/recording; b) promotion; c) archival work of identifying, storing and collating, etc. An expert from ICAP will be invited to hold a workshop on this topic. This local committee will appoint a chair to coordinate the project in London. Community discussions with key individuals and organizations and creating a committee are the initial steps to moving this project forward in London. ICAP is pleased to have played a role in facilitating this discussion with the Italian-Canadian community in the city. Caroline Di Cocco and Antonio CalcagnoIn Summer 2014, Professor Antonio Calcagno convened an initial meeting with various people of the Italian-Canadian community in London to gather information about the work and history of the Italian-Canadian presence in London Ontario. Much information came forward and people were very willing to help out in various ways. As a result, another meeting was scheduled for Fall with key members of the community to continue discussing next steps. In preparation for this meeting, Antonio Calcagno and Caroline di Cocco of ICAP met at the end of the summer to share what had been done in other communities and to discuss the next steps for London, Ontario. The second community meeting was held with representatives of the Marconi Club at King's College on October 8, 2014. At this meeting the facilitating work of ICAP was explained. All present agreed there was urgency to collecting and preserving relevant materials of the Italian- Canadian community in London. It was also acknowledged that this responsibility rested with the community members themselves. At this meeting it was agreed that a larger community committee should be formed to bring together leaders in five key areas: academia, religion, arts and culture, business, and social/community. These people were identified and will be contacted to attend a general meeting where the work of ICAP will be discussed and the actual work of identifying, collecting, cataloguing and storing of relevant materials can be organized. Additionally, the third general meeting will further discussion the delegation of tasks such as a) writing/recording; b) promotion; c) archival work of identifying, storing and collating, etc. An expert from ICAP will be invited to hold a workshop on this topic. This local committee will appoint a chair to coordinate the project in London. Community discussions with key individuals and organizations and creating a committee are the initial steps to moving forward this project in London, Ontario. ICAP is pleased to have played a role in facilitating this discussion with the Italian-Canadian Community in London. Caroline Di Cocco and Antonio Calcagno
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Welcome To The New ICAP Website

March 17, 2014 at 7:51 pm
We're excited to announce ICAP's revamped website, including online processes that help get our message out there to Italian-Canadian communities across Canada and growing online resources. Take a few minutes and explore, learn a little about what we do and see where you or your organization fit in! We'd love to hear from you so feel free to contact us with any questions or comments. What began as a group of scholars and community leaders concerned with identifying and collecting Italian-Canadian historical material has  become an active non-profit committed to outreach and national networking. Through our Archive Workshops and Share an Item initiatives, we're trying to create more ways to engage people with the fundamentals of archiving and make it easier for anyone to identify and work towards preserving items of interest. As an organization of established Italian-Canadian scholars, researchers and community leaders, we have experienced how archival materials inform our personal and community stories, as well as the story of Canada. Our Ongoing Research Map demonstrates how important archives and related material are to the wealth of research that is going on today focused on or related to the Italian-Canadian experience.   Archive Workshops Our expert members are working towards creating and sharing introductory "how-to" material that will help any organization or institution get start taking the steps towards identifying, collecting and preserving historical material. As of right now, we offer Archive Workshops in two ways: ICAP Workshops - Workshops lead by an ICAP expert for large community organizations with private archives and a strong interest in properly cataloging and preservation methods. Workshops lead by ICAP are currently restricted to a few areas in Canada based on available resources. More information is available here or by contacting us. Workshop Kits - An introduction to archiving kit created by ICAP experts. It is designed to allow community organizations — cultural clubs, schools, libraries, community centres or related organizations -  to lead their own informal workshops and bring ICAP's message to their community. Workshop Kits are available upon request for organizations that satisfy ICAP's requirements.   Sharing Items of Interest We also encourage individuals and community organizations to bring forth historical items for ICAP to identify. Information regarding items of interest will be relayed to experts and archives within ICAP's network of members and supporting organizations. In this way, communities have a more direct and simplified connection with archives, and vice versa, optimizing the number of important objects we can collect and preserve. We encourage Italian-Canadians everywhere to look in their homes, reach out to friends and families and connect with ICAP to identify items that tell stories of the Italian experience in Canada. Again, feel free to send us any comments or questions and we'll happily help you with anything we can!
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Performigrations: People are the Territory

February 2, 2014 at 3:20 am
ICAP is honoured to be part of and to support the EU-sponsored Performigrations Project. The fundamental understanding of this project is that each immigrant is a performer, who adjusts to a new locale and forms a new role to play there. Similar to ICAP, Performigrations emphasizes that a country’s territory is its people, not its land and this project aims to make audiences aware of the complex ‘processes of change’ continually happening in the changing human territory. Like ICAP, Performigrations is a network (of sixteen high-profile European and Canadian institutions). The aim of Performigrations is to investigate the societal themes of ‘mobility’ (both cultural and technological), and ‘immigration and identity’. This multi-layered network project is coordinated by the University of Bologna and focuses on the changes in the human territory of seven cities in Europe and Canada: Athens, Bologna, Klagenfurt, Lisbon, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Seven artists will be chosen through competitions in each locale and together they will conceptualize an art installation accessible through open-source platforms. Geo-location technologies will display old and new forms of storytelling about the impact on immigrants of a new locale and through changing roles, the contribution of immigrants to the places they choose to live. Dr. Angela Clarke, Museum Curator, Vancouver Italian Cultural Centre and ICAP Board Member, is organizing the competition to select the Performigrations’ artist in Vancouver and she will develop an exhibition in August, 2015, hosted at the Centre on “European-Canadians: Heritage on Show”.     Please contact Angela for more information and to provide support: Dr. Angela Clarke Museum Curator Italian Cultural Centre Vancouver, B.C. museum@iccvancouver.ca For more general information about Performigrations and ICAP, please contact: Dr. Maria Cioni Secretary, ICAP mariacioni@utoronto.ca NOTE: ARTISTS’ CALL FOR PROPOSALS IS OPEN UNTIL FEBRUARY 2014 (details on the main website)
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