An Easter Reflection: an Italian Community Does Exist

di Joe Volpe del 19 April 2019

TORONTO - There has been more than enough bad news to go around, as they say, in these last several weeks. There will be no shortage in the weeks to come.

But, that modest victory experienced by the Demitri on Tuesday showed that we may have been overlooking or underplaying some valuable assets: people with a sense of community and an openness to come to the aid of their neighbour.

Maybe it’s one of the roles Corriere Canadese to illustrate cases when and where that occurs – beyond the gay festivities associated with worthwhile fundraisers, which surely fulfill a function.

Because it is Easter, we want to acknowledge the impressive work of a “team” of people who rallied around the Demitri family in their time of stress and need. We’ll probably miss some, so apologies from the start.

Father Claudio Piccininno first brought the case to the attention of the Corriere. Without revealing any details regarding their whereabouts, it was clear that he and his “parish” had been sheltering – giving sanctuary – to the family.

It became equally clear that sympathetic parishioners had begun to provide the emotional and material sustenance to keep the family going.

Lizia Renna, Vittorio Pasquali and others (at personal cost) assembled teams to lobby MPs from all Parties on their behalf, attend to rallies to drive home the position, “button-hole” politicos, marshall “community organizations” and try to “inform the Press and Media” as to the facts.

It was, and continues to be, an arduous task.

Their unstinting efforts won significant, influential allies. Some national and international Press (National Post and UK Guardian) bought in.

Others, like our own Rogers-Omni-CHIN unit, still need convincing. Telelatino may eventually get there. Some got there early.

Manuel Alexandre’s Undocumented Workers Committee, Juliano D’Lucca’s GoLive TV team joined the movement to “stop the deportation” and “keep the Demitri here” campaign.

Despite all of that, federal MPs were unable to convince their Minister, Ahmed Hussen (a former refugee) to grant the Demitri “status”.

During his mandate, he granted “status” to about one million others who wanted to be a part of the Canadian society. Pray for him; he has troubles aplenty.

Nonetheless, buttressed by what turned out to be exemplary, strategic, legal counsel provided pro-bono by Richard Boraks, LLB, the Demitri ended up before Canadian Border Services Agency officials last Tuesday.

The official who oversaw the arrest and release of the Demitri was a “consummate professional”, according to Boraks.

Richard Boraks is an England-born son of Polish military officials who served in Italy during WW II. “Everything about their case triggered issues of social injustice in my psyche”, he said, adding that “my wife, whose grandfather was part of the offensive at Monte Cassino, insisted I take up the cause – she’s the boss.” It must have been tough.

A local TV station and self-declared consumer advocate journalist aired a savage, malicious “gotcha” piece on him. It was a shameful.

The “pile on” by his legal colleagues ensued, as did the usual efforts at reputation- sullying by MPs. Rocco Galati, celebrate litigation and constitutional lawyer, stood by him. He has survived, his reputation enhanced.

The Demitri are grateful.

Pax et Bonum. Happy Easter to all on behalf of the Corriere Canadese.

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