Located in East Vancouver, the Italian Cultural Centre grew out of the large wave of Italian immigrants who made Canada their new home more than 40 years ago.
“Those immigrants were already connected through regional associations representing cities or areas back in Italy,” explains Mauro Vescera, the Italian Cultural Centre’s Executive Director. “An interested group got together and approached the City of Vancouver for help purchasing 4.5 acres to build a new ‘home away from home.’”
After building their new “home away from home,” the volunteers built two seniors residences adjacent to the Italian Cultural Centre. One contains BC Housing sponsored independent living units, the other is an assisted living building for seniors. Both are associated with the Centre, but operate as separate entities.
Today, the Italian Cultural Centre’s focus is on sharing the Italian heritage, culture, and language with the broader Canadian community.
“We have an Italian Heritage Museum,” Mauro says, “with about four exhibitions a year; there’s our language school that caters to over 450 children and adult learners, a Montessori school, our jazz and opera music series, film festival, farmers’ market, community garden, educational programs—the list goes on and on.”
The Italian Cultural Centre works closely with supporters and partners in both Canada and Italy.
“We work with the Italian government to bring over artists, both performance and literary, and we’re very focused on partnerships and collaborations with local artistic groups. If it has an Italian theme or relates to our cultural patrimony, we feel it’s a great opportunity to partner with professional organizations to bring both contemporary and traditional Italian productions to Vancouver.”
The 21st century vision of the Centre is to transition into an Italian Cultural Community Centre.
“We’ve never been exclusively Italian; about 40% of our audience is Canadian. We’ve always been open to the public at large, but now we’re really focused on opening up even more in order to share our culture, language, and heritage. We’re working to appeal to a new generation of Italian Canadians and Canadians in general. We want to sustain the legacy that was created in the context of a multicultural Canada.”
For more information on the Italian Cultural Centre and its many events, see the website, send an email or call them at 604.430.3337. Check out the Facebook page or catch them on Instagram. The Italian Cultural Centre is conveniently located at 3075 Slocan Street, Vancouver.