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Members of immigrant communities, when they meet, wonder aloud whether they have "made it." Do they have professionals, business people, politicians, judges, artists, philanthropists-all of those people who comprise the intelligentsia and power brokers. In terms of Alberta's Italian community, we do have a range of such individuals. If, as Ezra Pound says, poets and artists are the "antenna of the race," then, Alberta's Italian community has creators who give us a heightened sense of ourselves as people of Italian descent who have lived in this place for one or many generations and have left our mark.

Alberta has a number of artists and scholars with provincial, national and international reputations. In the 1970s in Canada, writers from diverse ethnocultural backgrounds got together to publish. What united them was their sense of being "other" and, therefore, of being marginalized. Their sense of grievance went beyond the simple notion of racism, which is evident in Canadian immigration policy as well as the daily life of miners and other working people. Cover detail of William Anselmi and Kosata Gouliamos' book Elusive Margins.  Published by Guernica Press. It was based on the need to have their ethnicity and world view seen as a part of the "official" culture of Canada that was not based on the notion of founding cultures (English and French) but rather was, essentially, multicultural. William Anselmi and Kosta Gouliamos in Elusive Margins: Consuming Media, Ethnicity, and Culture, when referring to the publication of Roman Candles, a collection of the works of seventeen Italian-Canadian poets published in 1978, write: 

Roman Candles offered the reading public at large a selection of writers of Italian origin from across Canada, writers whose published works were in English, French and Italian. Yet the official recognition, that is, the appearance of reviews of this anthology in Canadian literary magazines had to struggle against crypto-racist attitudes against so-called minority literatures. Literary canons, as far as the reviews showed, seemed to be based on power relations of dominance and colonial practices, rather than critical assertions and analyses. This practice foreshadowed the special relation between the 'founding nations' status of Canadian literature and the literary texts being produced in various ethnocultural communities. 

Cover of The Lion's Mouth, a novel by Caterinal Edwards.  Published by Guernica.Alberta artists, scholars and academics of Italian descent include Caterina Edwards, Dr. Joseph Pivato, Peter Oliva, Giuseppe Albi, Dr. Massimo Verdicchio, Dr. William Anselmi, Antonella Fanella and Dr. Adriana Albi Davies. Acrylic by Giuseppe Albi titled Echo, 1998.  Copyright Giuseppe Albi. Ms. Edwards, Dr. Pivato and Mr. Oliva would acknowledge that their ethnicity is important to their creativity providing not only a theme but a way of perceiving the world. Mr. Albi, on the other hand, believes that he is a part of an international community of creators and that his ethnicity has little or no bearing on his artistic works. With respect to the scholars and academics, for some, the Italian community is a research subject but, for most, they are experts in certain branches of knowledge (for example, literature) that are international in scope.

The numbers of Albertans of Italian descent working in the arts and culture are small and this raises the issue of whether the struggle to get ahead and make a living, which has been the preoccupation of the community for most of the last 100 years (albeit in three waves of immigration), has worked against artistic creation. When has any ethnocultural group been here long enough to be counted? Does it matter if individual rights and freedoms are protected? These issues do not apply solely to Canadians of Italian descent. They apply to all Canadians as our country continues to re-invent itself with the arrival of every newcomer.

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