A new monument commemorating the lives and deaths of Italian workers killed as a result of work over the past century in Ontario will soon become a reality.
In the works for more than five years, volunteer organizers of the Italian Fallen Workers’ Memorial project have documented more than 770 names to date
. Project organizers, however, are sure there are many more.
“We are seeking assistance from the wider community
to help us document as many names as possible for posterity,” says Marino Toppan, activity coordinator for the project.
A long-time activist and former president of the Labourers International Union of North America (LIUNA), Local 506, Toppan arrived in Canada from Northern Italy in 1955. Over his four decades in the labour movement in various capacities as well as his involvement in the community, he came to know of many Italians killed as a result of work.
Toppan and the many others involved in this project see it as a way to ensure the ultimate sacrifices made by workers of Italian heritage will be remembered for generations to come
Italian immigrants first arrived in Canada in large numbers in the late 19th
century to work in mining, railway construction and other hazardous sectors. Following World War II, 500,000 more arrived to help fuel Canada’s post-war economic boom. This generation of immigrants found similar work as well as jobs in the growing construction industry as labourers and artisans.
Project organizers are hoping to unveil the 11 column monument in 2016
. Each column will represent a decade beginning in 1900. The names of each documented fatality from a particular decade will be etched on the column.
The monument will be constructed on the grounds at the Villa Columbo in Toronto (Dufferin St. and Lawrence Ave. W.). This senior and long term care facility provides long-term residential care and community services to seniors in a culturally sensitive environment that honours the Italian heritage.
Do you want to know more about the Italian Fallen Workers’ Memorial project?
Do you know of any Italian workers killed as a result of work or want additional information?
Do you wish to make a financial contribution to support this memorial project?
Donations are being handled by Villa Charities—a registered non-profit organization.
A charitable tax receipt will be provided and donor name will be etched on a recognition plaque.
Please mail cheque to (cheque payable to VILLA CHARITY (Re. Memorial): Columbus Centre
901 Lawrence Ave. West
Toronto, ON M6A 1C3
Want to know about other worker memorials across Ontario?