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Feast Day

Heritage Days

Giovanni Caboto

Festivals are a way in which the Italian community has shared aspects of its cultural life with the community at large.  The community-only events are the religious festivals such as Santa Maria Goretti Day in Edmonton.  On this day, in June,  a procession of the statue of the patron saint of the Italian Parish is carried around Commonwealth Stadium.  Other activities onsite include games and competitions, dancing and a celebration of Italian food.  It is a family event based around the Santa Maria Goretti Church and Centre. See Feast Day of Santa Maria Goretti.

There are also other festivals that are open to the community at large.  Sabatino Roncucci, an Italian community leader based in Edmonton, was a founder of the multiculturalism movement in Alberta and Canada.  According to Mr. Roncucci, the term multiculturalism began to be used in the early 1970s but the notion arose earlier through the work of the United Nations Society and also research undertaken at the University of Alberta by sociologist Baha R. Abu-Laban.  In 1967, through the Edmonton Folk Arts Council, Mr. Roncucci choreographed a dance titled "Canadiana" for Canadian centenary celebrations.  He believes that folkloristic dances are the most basic of cultural expressions and enable sharing between cultures.  The dance that he choreographed began with First Nations, followed by voyageurs, English, Scots, Ukrainians and others.  It was danced to a particularly western piece of music- "Turkey in the Straw." Mr. Roncucci wanted to demonstrate diversity and unity.  The dance was first performed on July 1st, Canada Day, in Ottawa and then the group was invited to perform it in Tunisia at the International Festival of Popular Arts (1971).  

In 1974, a "multicultural festival" was held at Hawrelak Park in Edmonton celebrating the diverse cultural traditions of the City's ethnocultural communities through food and dance.  In 1975, the Edmonton Heritage Festival Association was incorporated to make the festival an annual event.  Mr. Roncucci was responsible for the Italian pavilion in the early years of the festival.  Responsibility for the Italian pavilion was taken on by the National Congress of Italian-Canadians, Edmonton District, on its incorporation in 1979.  Under its various presidents (including Carlo Amodio, Rudy Cavaliere, Tony Mazucca, Fausta Marazzo, Adriana Albi Davies and Sam Amelio), the the presence at Heritage Days has continued to grow and the event has become the major fundraiser for the NCIC.  Volunteers come from various community organizations and the Festival is an opportunity to work together to present a dynamic image of Italian heritage in Alberta.  Over 400,000  participants and about 50 ethnocultural groups take part in the Festival on the July/August holiday long weekend. See Heritage Days.

Lethbridge has created a heritage festival and the Romulus & Remus Italian Club participates annually.  Red Deer also has a heritage festival focusing on multiculturalism but there is no Italian presence because there is no organization promoting the Italian heritage in the city.  Calgary also lacks a multicultural festival.

The final festival providing an opportunity to showcase Edmonton's Italian Community is Giovanni Caboto Day celebrated in June.  Businessmen and community leaders in Little Italy developed the festival, with its range of entertainment to take place in June.  Besides a range of food, there was the cycle race, pasta eating contest, climbing of a greased pole as well as cultural displays.  The Festival attracted huge crowds to Little Italy and the organizers succeeded in getting the Princess Patricia Park at the centre of Little Italy named Giovanni Caboto Park.  Festivals require a great deal of volunteer labour and are subject to bad weather, which impacts negatively on revenues needed to mount the festivals.  In recent years, the Caboto Day festival has not been held though organizers hope to continue the event in future.  See Giovanni Caboto Day.

View  the Cavaliere Family Photo Album
as they enjoy Edmonton's different festivals!
Cavaliere Album  

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