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Old 06-23-2011, 11:14 AM
 
Location: NoVA bound!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acajack View Post
The main reason Toronto's Italian culture/personality/character is not widely known is because in general Toronto's overall culture/personality/character is not very widely known either.
I wholly agree and would add the same can be applied to Canadian culture as a whole. It's quite difficult to compare immigrant-descended cultures in the US and Canada because of our different attitudes towards immigrant populations. I've often read on CD how there is little noticeable difference between US and Canadian culture, but this question in fact highlights one of the major differences.

I lived in Oakwood-Vaughn until recently, and although many of the "older" immigrants have been replaced by "newer" different nationalities the Italian population is still strong, but I think "culture" is perceived as something more personal here. Many of the first, second and third Italians I know don't walk around sporting the tricolor, but one waft of the flavours eminating from their kitchens and you know they're Italian.

@Equalizer 101: I find your attitude highly disappointing. One of the things I take pride in as a sixth generation Canadian is the lack of emphasis on one's origins. Whether you have an Indian or Italian accent, dark or light skin, we are all Canadians. Most immigrants I know, regardless of descent, did not come here to carry on their own traditions, but because they wanted to be part of a new tradition.
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Old 06-23-2011, 11:35 AM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Equalizer101 View Post
You want Italian culture I'm afraid you're going to have to go to the source. Toronto smothers culture, personality, and desire to socialize with new people/strangers (unless a business transaction is involved). Like any place outside Italy, once the second generation comes around, their Italianness is virtually whitewashed. Go to an Italian festival in the "Little Italy" areas on College St or St Clair and what do you see? The new formula lately for Italian festivals in Toronto: Latin-American bands, latin dancing, hot dog-type carts, shawarma, falafel, Mexican and S. American food stands smothering out the very few Italian food offerings (though Italian restaurants are scattered through the areas), Indian and Chinese shopkeepers [on St. Clair] hoping to capitalize on the predominantly "white", Indian, Chinese, and South-American crowds, bouncy castles and other carny kids entertainment (what does this have to do with Italian culture?)--IT IS QUITE DEPRESSING for a Canadian-Italian.

They are all bad, but the St Clair one was the first one where I did not feel a glimmer of Italian culture--it was an embarrassment and a sham to even call it an Italian festival. Probably just a ploy by some business association to distract people's attention to some fake-cultural show to get some $ and ultra-high traffic to the area for a couple of days for restaurants they can visit any time of the year. I passed by an Italian festival at Yonge and Dundas only a few weeks ago, there were probably some jazz bands that I missed (whose only connection to Italy was jazz singers/players who had Italian last names), it was HORRIFIC, as I was passing by some "comedian" with an annoying loud voice was delivering the "Pee on Toast" joke--it was just barely amusing to read this joke on the internet over a decade ago....but damn, someone thought it was a good idea to read this out word for word at an "Italian festival"? It was a very sad day in Toronto-Italian culture for me. I think the Little Italy's are only full of Italians on a good weekend. Outside of that the areas are majority non-Italians (Wasp/Anglo types, Chinese, S. Americans, Chinese and Indian).

Yes, there are a ton of Italians in Woodbridge, but like many sprawling suburbs you won't really see visible community activity as people are either holed up in their houses and only step outside their house to do landscaping, or drive to go to work (some in the factory areas bordering Woodbridge or towards Toronto...a 35-60 min drive/commute for the many that go all the way downtown) or shopping.

I think I wrote down the stats here somewhere, in all of Canada's 36M people, 800k+ are of Italian descent, probably about 15% actually speak Italian. I can't remember the stats specific to Toronto.

Disclaimer: I am born and raised in Toronto of Italian immigrants. I obtained my Italian citizenship/passport only a year or so ago in the hopes of spending an extended amount of time there some day soon. I don't give **** about soccer.
Interesting posts. I agree with quite a few of your points. Keep in mind that although this doesn't appear to have happened in Toronto, in many places in the world immigrants forge a unique "in-between" culture that often persists for several generations - sometimes (somewhat surprisingly) in spite of the total absence of the original language. A good example of this is the Italian-American population in the megalopolis of the northeastern United States. Very, very few of them speak Italian these days, most are third or fourth generation Americans or more, and yet they still have specific characteristics that make them a fairly easily identifiable group. And what is even more interesting is that many of these unique characteristics aren't necessarily found in modern-day Italians in Italy, if they ever were common in Italy at all.

They are wholly American... or Italian-American. They aren't really like Italians in Italy, but they aren't like descendants of the Mayflower Pilgrims either.
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Old 06-23-2011, 11:41 AM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
24,336 posts, read 30,586,760 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alegria2 View Post
I wholly agree and would add the same can be applied to Canadian culture as a whole. It's quite difficult to compare immigrant-descended cultures in the US and Canada because of our different attitudes towards immigrant populations. I've often read on CD how there is little noticeable difference between US and Canadian culture, but this question in fact highlights one of the major differences.

I lived in Oakwood-Vaughn until recently, and although many of the "older" immigrants have been replaced by "newer" different nationalities the Italian population is still strong, but I think "culture" is perceived as something more personal here. Many of the first, second and third Italians I know don't walk around sporting the tricolor, but one waft of the flavours eminating from their kitchens and you know they're Italian.

@Equalizer 101: I find your attitude highly disappointing. One of the things I take pride in as a sixth generation Canadian is the lack of emphasis on one's origins. Whether you have an Indian or Italian accent, dark or light skin, we are all Canadians. Most immigrants I know, regardless of descent, did not come here to carry on their own traditions, but because they wanted to be part of a new tradition.
I see this as well. Although it is somewhat ironic that one of the great Canadian principles/mantras/propagandas is that Canada is the great multicultural free-for-all that exists in opposition to the Great American Melting Pot. In Canada, immigrants are supposedly more free and even encouraged to retain their original cultures, whereas in the U.S. there is supposedly a greater push to become an "unhyphenated American"...

I believe that except for Quebec, statistics show that immigrants in Canada tend to hold onto their original cultures and languages less than in the U.S., and assimilate even more quickly into the mainstream here.
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Old 06-23-2011, 12:20 PM
 
Location: NoVA bound!
56 posts, read 145,539 times
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I agree with that analysis and might suggest it comes from Canada's supposed freedom and a lack of pressure/fear that immigrants have to conform in other countries.

In other words, if you give someone the "freedom" to practice their own culture, albeit within certain limitations (read: within the constructs of the predominant culture especially as it applies to existing laws), they are more likely to embrace cultures other than their own.

Which is why I've never understood Quebec's forceful approach to preserving its unique culture and identity (despite having lived there for 6 years), but that's a whole other thread...
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Old 06-23-2011, 12:37 PM
 
Location: Toronto
71 posts, read 326,430 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alegria2 View Post
@Equalizer 101: I find your attitude highly disappointing. One of the things I take pride in as a sixth generation Canadian is the lack of emphasis on one's origins. Whether you have an Indian or Italian accent, dark or light skin, we are all Canadians. Most immigrants I know, regardless of descent, did not come here to carry on their own traditions, but because they wanted to be part of a new tradition.
Alegrai, as a 6th generation Canadian you absolutely can't appreciate someone of 1st generation who doesn't feel like they entirely belong--not entirely with the whitewashed Italians here and not with the mangiacakes :-P. If I met one of these nice nth generation Canadian girls I'm sure it would sway my mind! I have no doubt my kids, and kids' kids' will have no connection to Italy as they will have a wider support system than I had (they will have grandparents, aunts/uncles, and close cousins in Canada unlike me [if I don't move to Italy])

I grew up in Canada while all my uncles/aunts/grandparents/1st cousins were in Italy so that really didn't help. To go back to the country of origin and to see history spanning centuries and millennia at every corner, a culture and social dynamic so rich and real, people with their hearts on their sleeves, and to come back to blahness, shallow hype and closed-off people. Granted, my siblings/parents don't share my level of fanaticism with Italy (though my parents speak with family in Italy on a weekly basis). I really wish I was more attached to Canada, life would be easier instead of me considering starting over in Italy.

But I feel like I'm in another more real world in Italy, I've felt alive and I've felt that my soul is there, I feel like a zombie going through the motions and waiting for death or some other exit from Toronto--people who don't look you in the face/actively turn away, don't acknowledge you, don't greet you, social distance and isolation, the impossibility of meeting someone of the opposite sex...can't stand the social dynamic in Toronto though admittedly I have borne similar traits over time.

I used to live and go to school in a part of Oakwood/Vaughan in my elementary school days...but in a few steps did the usual migratory pattern north with family. I remember what it was like in the 80s, the school and area was 70% Italian, Portuguese, and mangiacake (I grew up with very friendly mangiacake neighbours on either side but I felt like I came from a different planet than them), a few token latinos in the neighbourhood, and I think little Jamaica didn't exist at the time.

EDIT: It would have made no difference to me whether my situation would be in a "mosaic" accepting place like Canada, or a melting pot like the U.S. Don't kid yourself about the melting pot, there are MANY Americans who seek to obtain/maintain a second passport/citizenship.

Last edited by Equalizer101; 06-23-2011 at 01:09 PM..
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Old 06-23-2011, 12:58 PM
 
Location: Beautiful Niagara Falls ON.
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Toronto has a huge Italian presence. The OP assumes that just because it's very different than American Italian that it does not exist. I was brought up in a very Italian neighbourhood in the east end of TO. Half of my childhood friends were Italian. These Italians were almost 100% from Sicly and were peasants back at home. They were very quiet people and really just tended to stay around their homes and families. The men all worked long and hard at construction mostly. Sure they had their stores and clubs but they were not by any streatch an in your face community. There were maybe one quarter or less Greeks in the neighbourhood than Italians. The Greeks were far more flamboyant and noticeable than the Italians.
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Old 06-23-2011, 02:18 PM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
24,336 posts, read 30,586,760 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alegria2 View Post
I agree with that analysis and might suggest it comes from Canada's supposed freedom and a lack of pressure/fear that immigrants have to conform in other countries.

In other words, if you give someone the "freedom" to practice their own culture, albeit within certain limitations (read: within the constructs of the predominant culture especially as it applies to existing laws), they are more likely to embrace cultures other than their own.

Which is why I've never understood Quebec's forceful approach to preserving its unique culture and identity (despite having lived there for 6 years), but that's a whole other thread...
There is some merit to the theory that the soft approach produces better integration results. However, the soft approach does not always work, and most people in Quebec who know something about their province's history will tell you that the soft, laissez-faire approach was attempted there for a century or two, with the result that...
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Old 06-23-2011, 05:14 PM
 
Location: NoVA bound!
56 posts, read 145,539 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Equalizer101 View Post
Alegrai, as a 6th generation Canadian you absolutely can't appreciate someone of 1st generation who doesn't feel like they entirely belong.
At 15 I moved to BC from Ontario. At 17, I moved to Quebec City. But if that doesn't suffice, I just spent the last 12 years living in Europe and Latin America, so I have a very good idea of what it feels like to be an immigrant. I can't say I know what it feels like not to belong, because I've always gone out of my way to belong.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Equalizer101 View Post
...and to come back to blahness, shallow hype and closed-off people. Granted, my siblings/parents don't share my level of fanaticism with Italy (though my parents speak with family in Italy on a weekly basis). I really wish I was more attached to Canada, life would be easier instead of me considering starting over in Italy.
I can't say I completely agree, but I definitely appreciate your sentiment. I only recently returned to Canada and after what was supposed to be a temporary move turned into two years I'm now finally relocating to the US and am not disappointed to be leaving Canada. Perhaps I should have said "One of the only things I take pride in as a sixth generation Canadian..."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Equalizer101 View Post
EDIT: It would have made no difference to me whether my situation would be in a "mosaic" accepting place like Canada, or a melting pot like the U.S. Don't kid yourself about the melting pot, there are MANY Americans who seek to obtain/maintain a second passport/citizenship.
I agree, it doesn't sound like living in Canada or the US or Italy for that matter would have made your situation any different. With all due respect, it sounds like you have a little bit of the "grass is always greener" outlook on life. I would definitely encourage you to move to Italy. Europe is wonderful and I've no doubt you will enjoy many aspects of Italian life, but bear in mind, after a few years, some of those very things that attract you might begin to wear thin Good luck with not being a football fan...
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Old 06-23-2011, 05:19 PM
 
Location: NoVA bound!
56 posts, read 145,539 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acajack View Post
There is some merit to the theory that the soft approach produces better integration results. However, the soft approach does not always work, and most people in Quebec who know something about their province's history will tell you that the soft, laissez-faire approach was attempted there for a century or two, with the result that...
Granted, the soft approach has its disadvantages, one need only look at the UK as an example of how things can and sometimes do go wrong.

But, as a former resident and generally well-rounded individual I know a thing or two about that province's history (and its treatment of non-Quebecois)... please enlighten me.

Completely off topic, I know.
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Old 06-23-2011, 09:46 PM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
24,336 posts, read 30,586,760 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alegria2 View Post
Granted, the soft approach has its disadvantages, one need only look at the UK as an example of how things can and sometimes do go wrong.

But, as a former resident and generally well-rounded individual I know a thing or two about that province's history (and its treatment of non-Quebecois)... please enlighten me.

Completely off topic, I know.
I would have a long response on this (heck, I could probably write a book on this), but it would quickly get deleted for being off-topic.

If you are interested in what I have to say on the issue, you can send me a direct message.
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