I want to thank you, Joe, for your strong personal and editorial support for the effort to keep the Columbus Centre alive.
I have fond memories of canvassing the blocks around Wenderley Ave with you in your last election campaign and I marvelled then at how well you knew the people in those blocks.
I feel that you know the Columbus community as well. Not just the particular ‘community’ that Villa Charities evokes, but a much broader and more diverse community where Italians and non-Italians like me come together in informal and ongoing ways. This version of community building is much more about nation building than the narrower vision that Villa Charities holds up as its goal for renewal.
I was fortunate to grow up on St Clair Avenue during the early to mid 1950s wave of Italian immigration. I fell in love with the Italian language and things Italian as a child, watching with fascination as my neighbourhood changed.
You know the first words and expressions that kids learn from kids who speak a different language. Those were the first Italian words I learned.
When I read about the ‘Vaaf… group’ in your recent editorial, I wondered if it meant what I thought it did.
Fortunately, when you’re in the change room in the Health Club at Columbus Centre, there are plenty of people only a locker or two away to ask. In the spirit of culture sharing that only happens when you bring people of diverse cultures together in a warm and welcoming setting, they were only too happy to reassure me that after many years, my grasp of the Italian language is still sound.
Long may it stay that way!
Long may we stay together!
Grazie, Joe, for all that you and the Corriere Canadese are doing to help us save our Centre.