A rich history of offering support to immigrants
The Calgary Italian Club celebrated its 60th anniversary on Sept 28th and 29th with Festa Italiana, a weekend of drinking, dancing and food.
From humble beginnings that had its members meeting in a restaurant, today the organization has its own building in Bridgeland featuring a ballroom, bocce ball center and restaurant that is open to the public.
Mario Finot, who immigrated to Calgary in 1955, says the club warmly welcomed him and his wife Anna — strangers in a new city.
"I had a suitcase in each hand," Finot recalls. "I stood on the street. I looked
left, I looked right. And I just started walking."
This was the experience of many Italian immigrants, who left everything – and everyone – in Italy for a new life in Calgary.
Finot says that while the move was difficult at first, he feels lucky to live in Canada. "There is no place like this," Finot says.
Danilo Terra, a 27-year-old accordion player who moved to Calgary as a kid, says the Calgary Italian Club gave him a colourful childhood.
"My parents were part of the Italian Club growing up, so I was a little kid running around here. I just kind of grew up with it," Terra says. "It was always good fun; exciting and inclusive."
After Finot's wife succumbed to cancer six years ago, he says the Italian Club is where he finds support.
"The only thing that helps me is company," Finot says. "Then my mind is not always on Anna. It really removes that stress."
- By Hannah Kost