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Is the future of “Casa d’Italia” already pre-determined?

Is the future of “Casa d’Italia” already pre-determined?

Franco Misuraca
 
TORONTO – I have been following the “debate(s)” swirling around initiatives like the “Legacy Group”, the representation of the Italianità  in Canada and the influence of the Italian community in Ontario and Canada.
On the face of it, the former seems to be unfocused and the latter non-existant. How else does one explain the insistent efforts by at least two School Boards to eradicate the international Languages (Italian) from the extended day program. Or the absence of Italian representation in the federal Cabinet, or the silence of provincial and municipal politicians of Italian extraction on major issues of the day?
Is it because you, the Corriere Canadese refuse to give them space? I think as a community we put forward people of substance, with credentials that are at least equal to those of others. We have accomplished much in the building of this country. Its story should be our story. 
It is not a story of banquets sponsored by one community group or another to “recognize” the “usual suspects” with yet another plaque.  I do not want to deprecate the value of the initiatives of others – quite the contrary. This exercise has its value; but it is time that we all demonstrated our maturity as individuals as well as a community. It is time to reap the fruits of the labour exerted by others on our behalf.
To do this I think we need to have the strength to reach out beyond the “petty politics’ of party affiliations, beyond the echo of our own bell tower and beyond the sanctuaries of Academia or even the influence of Italian Authorities (directly or through their agents).
 For all of their value, the Embassy and the Consulates are Italian institutions in the service of the needs of a foreign State. It is unrealistic for us to expect them to put themselves in our shoes. Nor should they. Besides our interests are long-term, the Diplomatic corps is here for a very limited time.
We need to build on the experiences and talents of those who have toiled before us in the cause of integration and validation. We cannot ignore what they have accomplished, allowing others to dismiss what has been done as little more than quickly extinguished “brush fires”.
By the same token, we cannot expect our ”youth” to be as committed to our sense of being and self worth if we do not engage them. We cannot sit by as they become “assimilated into something else”. I noted that Mr. Paina, for whom I have respect, lamented that young professionals, regrettably, have no interest in things “Italian”. He does not say why not.
For me, that is not a good enough reason to exclude them from deliberations regarding who we are. For how much longer do we keep going to the same people, “hammering on the same nail”? If we continually play the same chord, can we expect a different sound?
Today, there is much talk about how to use an asset that was generated by the sacrifices of pre-World War II Italians in the downtown area. It seems that a “process” is in place to determine its best use. An Advisory Board is already constituted to ascertain this objective.
I know this because I read it in the Corriere Canadese, which cites one of the Advisory Board members as a source. It goes on to say that once the “process” is done, the community will be consulted. May I be skeptical without being negative?
The people being consulted now are those whose handling of another great community asset – the lands on which reside the Columbus Centre and Villa Colombo etc. – has led to public acrimony and internecine law suits whose substance is generated by something other than the community wellbeing.
The Corriere Canadese has also pointed out that the Italian Authorities, the presumed (but so far unproved) owners of the Casa Italia, have embarked on a consultation of the Italian Community AND the Canadian Italian Community.
Was the Corriere Canadese able to determine how the members were selected? With respect, it seems to me that the composition of the Advisory Group has already pre-determined how that asset will be utilized.
I fear those of us who live beyond the downtown 416 area code, in the nether reaches of Mississauga, Hamilton- Niagara, Brampton Caledon, Vaughan, Aurora, Markham, Durham (I can go on and on) will be once again cast by the wayside.
We need to be inclusive now, if we want to avoid the pitfalls of the past when the good intentions and initiatives of dedicated people ended up in “tarallucci e vino”, as they say in Naples.
 
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Cafone-in-chief
Mar Sun ,2017