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     Edmonton:  Cultural Life

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by Adriana Albi Davies, Ph.D. 

 1  |  3  |  5  |  Page 6

Giovanni Bincoletto was the first Vice Consul and he came with trade-attache experience and actively promoted Italian products - food stuffs and wines.  Very successful events were held in city hotels.  Mr. Bincoletto was liked and respected by the community and chose to retire in Edmonton.  His successor was Giuseppe Imbalzano.   As a servant of the Italian government involved in the organization of the Second Rome Conference on Immigration around the theme President Francesco Cossiga.  Photo courtesy of Il Congresso newspaperGli Italiani all'Estero [Italians Abroad], he actively implemented Italian Government policy.  The policy was intended to promote re-acquisition of citizenship and the vote in Italian elections.  President Francesco Cossiga in January, 1987, made a direct address to Italians abroad (see Il Congresso article to read the address in Italian).  The President refers to almost 50 million people of Italian descent living in 19 countries on three continents.  A conference to bring together representatives from these Italian communities around the world took place from November 28 to December 3, 1988 in Rome (the Second Rome Conference on Immigration) and participants totaled 2,239 with just over 1000 delegates. 

The outgoing Vice-Consul Mr. Bincoletto appointed Adriana Albi Davies, Ph.D., as the Alberta representative.  The Canadian delegation met with the American delegation in New York (June, 1988) and alone in Toronto (November, 1988).  The discussions on a range of themes (culture, language retention, political rights, pensions, etc.) was heated.  It was complicated both by Italian party political differences and Canadian regional differences. The Italian contingent eventually compromised on all themes except the most potentially divisive: the establishment of local consular committees, the proposed COEMIT (Comitati Emigrazione Italiani).  The reason that the Congress rejected the COEMIT was that they believed that Italian-Canadian societies needed to determine their own priorities, separate from those of the Government in Italy.  The establishment of local consular committees, after the conference, the ComItEs, to be the liaison group between the Italian government and the community, did create some friction in the community but all parties continue to try to resolve these issues.  The Italian elections in 2003, when Italian Canadians, who have reclaimed Italian citizenship, vote for the first time, will test the Italian government policy of having "citizens abroad." 

Edmonton has an established "Little Italy," the only such between Winnipeg and Vancouver.   This comprises the area between 107th Avenue and 118th Avenue, and 93rd Street and 97th Street.  EdmontoEdmonton's Little Italyn's Italian community is proud of its identity in all of its aspects embracing culture and lifeways.  Local Italian businesses, working with the City of Edmonton, have realized that Edmonton's Little Italy is a means of attracting visitors to the inner-city and a vehicle for economic redevelopment.  While the upwardly mobile Italian immigrants and their descendants have largely moved out of the inner city, because of the concentration of Italian businesses, restaurants and festivals (such as the Santa Maria Goretti Day and the Giovanni Caboto Day, which has, unfortunately, not happened in the last few years), they remain a draw.  

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