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Family Unification
and Settlement

Fascist Era
Post World War II

Cultural  Life

  2  |  Page 3

Finally, the Congress took the stance of opposing Italian government efforts to allow community members to reclaim their citizenship and vote in Italian elections. These policies, expressed through several major immigration conferences that brought people of Italian ancestry to Rome (the last in November/December, 1988), have resulted in the establishment of consular-run committees, the ComItEs (Committee of Italians Abroad). Ironically, this notion of "Italians abroad" is linked to Mussolini and Fascism. As Harney points out, the Fascist government in 1927 replaced the Commissioner of Emigration with a Director General of Italians Abroad: "Italo-Canadians were to be considered overseas Italian subjects and not emigrants lost to the mother Country." There has been a little friction within some Italian communities in Canada with at the establishment of consular communities but the National Congress of Italian-Canadians has withdrawn its opposition.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out once Italian elections are held and individuals who have reclaimed citizenship are able to vote.

Mary Biollo Doyle being interviewed by Adriana Albi Davies for the Celebrating Edmonton's Italian Community Oral History Project.  Photo by David Ridley courtesy of the Heritage Community Foundation.As a result of a number of oral history projects and academic research, many Italian community members are being sensitized to the need to document their immigration experience. Heritage institutions, such as museums, have played a role in this but very few Italian organizations have created their own museums and archives. This remains a rich area for development and for sharing with the community at large. After  the experiences of internment during World War II, Italians rejected or sublimated their Italian identity. A flowerbed signalling Montreal's Little Italy in 2002.  Photo courtesy of Carlo Amodio.Today, Italian identity, in all of its aspects embracing culture and lifeways, is something to be proud of and celebrated. Communities that have "Little Italies" (including Montreal, Toronto, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver) have realized that they are means of attracting visitors to inner-city areas and vehicles for economic redevelopment.  While the upwardly mobile Italian immigrants and their descendants have largely moved out of these areas, because of the concentration of Italian businesses, restaurants and, often, festivals, they remain a draw.  

In the next few years, we will see more publications and, after the posting of the Celebrating Alberta's Italian Community website by the Edmonton-based Heritage Community Foundation, we will, no doubt, see more significant content developed for the web. As the curriculum of studies changes in the different provinces to acknowledge Canadian pluralism, we will also see the development of both conventional and web-based curriculum resources. The Celebrating Alberta's Italian Community has been designed to be such a resource.  Three generations of oral histories can be accessed through the People section of the website.

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