Italian immigrants have worked principally in Calgary's construction industry. As general laborers they build houses, buildings and roads. A few of them operate their own businesses as subcontractors to the companies they previously worked for. A good number of them have worked many years for the City of Calgary in its road crews, fixing and erecting fences, doing landscaping, and working in general maintenance. Many have also worked in the
C.P. Rail yards. Italian immigrants are also found working at various hospitals and schools in maintenance or caretaking positions. Most of the Italian specialty stores in the city are owned by Italian immigrants. Many cafes and restaurants, and a few bakeries, are also owned by Italian immigrants, as are some tailor shops and boutiques.
Table 9 gives some statistics about types of work performed by Italian immigrants in the last 40 years in Calgary.
There is a wide range of social activities within the Italian
community; many socialize with friends in their homes, go to picnics together, listen to singers from Italy, and attend showers and weddings, as well as other religious ceremonies such as baptisms, and funerals. Men usually like recreational sports, such as hunting and fishing, and often gather to look at a soccer game,
'una partita di calcio'. Men are also likely to join friends at one of the Italian clubs in the city to play cards. The Italian community is highly Catholic and church attendance remains high, especially at major religious festivals such as Easter and Christmas (personal observations).
Table 10 summarizes the range of activities in which Italian immigrants engage, in their free time.
The dream of being the owner of one's home has become a reality for the majority of Italian immigrants; over 85% owned their homes outright. The quality, sophistication and elaborate design of the various homes owned by the immigrants were evident. Italians have moved from the riverside in
Bridgeland, their original location at the time of their arrival in Calgary, to top residential areas in the city. These immigrants are becoming more and more affluent; it is obvious that their sacrifices have paid well. Within a single generation, Italians have obtained in material wealth what other immigrants to this country may have taken a few generations to achieve. Certainly, this is a tribute to their own frugality and hard work.
To the question, "As an immigrant to our city what do you think of your life in it?", the majority of interviewees gave me an overwhelming positive response. Two-thirds said they were satisfied while another one third claimed it was very good.
The article is reprinted with permission of the author David Aliagu and
the publisher Canadian Ethnic Studies / …tudes ethniques au Canada
Journal, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Calgary.