While the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club (KCIC) couldn’t gather physically due to the pandemic, they still held a virtual celebration for its 55th anniversary.
On March 9, the club welcomed over 100 online attendees over Zoom. Many friends of the club provided their congratulations, including Mayor Colin Basran; MLAs Norm Letnick, Ben Stewart and Renee Merrifield; MPs Tracy Gray and Dan Albas; Italian Consulate General Fabio Messineo; Premier John Horgan; and even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The “Zoomaversary” and the contributions by all levels of leadership reinforced how integral the Italian community is to Kelowna and the Central Okanagan for nearly 140 years. Since 1966, the KCIC has served as the community’s hub.
“Our goal was to make people understand that being an Italian Canadian is an accomplishment,” said President Rosann Nanci in her introduction that evening.
“Through our parents and grandparents we, along with many other immigrants, have played an enormous role in building Canada and we, the Italians, have accomplished a lot of great things.”
To close off the online celebration, there was a public unveiling of Il Nostro Lascito Project. The video series documents the experiences of Italian immigrants in the Central Okanagan and the legacy they created. The first video in the series features highlights from interviews with eight local families in the Italian community.
The general public will have the chance to see the video at a special YouTube Premiere on Tuesday, March 16 at 7 p.m. There will be an online watch party and a chance to ask questions of the video director Gord Hotchkiss and KCIC historian and researcher Don Rampone.
“Since 1883, Italians have been instrumental in building the foundations of the home we know today. Whether it’s agriculture, the wine industry, tourism, sports, or even the very building of Kelowna’s landmarks, Italians have been there and done that,” Hotchkiss.
According to Hotchkiss, Italian handiwork can be seen in the concrete statue of the Ogopogo, which was built by Orsi and Sons Contracting.
“We hope this series is more than just a simple documenting of Italian achievement,” he said.
“It is also the story of finding acceptance in a new home and the bridging of cultures. As such, it is a great example of inclusivity and the celebration of ethnic diversity.”
To learn more about Il Nostro Lascito, visit https://www.kelownaitalianclub.com/legacy.html.