Italian Canadians: they live among us - our fellow citizens,
neighbours and friends. But the roots of their communities lie with
the people who one day decided to leave the places where they were
born and raised: the immigrants. They came mainly from rural Italy,
and brought in their suitcases traditions and values from the peasant
societies they had left behind. Their outlook, way of life, knowledge
and know-how are now an integral part of the Canadian fabric.
This exhibition is about their presence.
Lent by the Italian Cultural Centre Society, Vancouver
Will it be about the vestiges of a peasant life of days gone by? No,
on the contrary. This exhibition invites us to rethink the linear view
of history that labels the cultures of the past as being hopelessly
"out of date". It invites us to take a new look at some of the
traditions and values brought over from Italy. Although they originated
in another place and time, many of them are relevant to the questions
we are asking today and our aspirations for tomorrow.
In acknowledging their presence, the exhibition also highlights their relevance.
Using artifacts and videos from across Canada, the exhibition introduces
the history and current diversity of Italian Canadians
(See Appendix "Unlocking the Past"
and "Italian from A to Z?"). But the core
of the exhibition is about the immigrant generation, and how it draws upon its
traditions and values to improve the present. As we spend
time with Italian immigrants and listen to them, we are invited to see
ourselves in their experiences, their concerns and their hopes.
By combining our presence with theirs, the exhibition is also about encounters.