Why a Magazine About Italian Canadians? Why in English? Why Accenti? Many people have asked me these questions in one form or another in the months leading up to the launch of this Magazine. While the answers seem self-evident, to the skeptics I can only say that there is a vibrant Italian community in Canada, and that this community is worth talking about - both amongst ourselves and to those around us.
As for the argument that looking at the world through the Italian Canadian prism is an exercise in introversion which limits or even ghettoizes the community, I can say that people with common characteristics coalesce around common objectives all the time. The fact is that such endeavours inform and enrich the human community as a whole.
The overwhelming number of email messages, letters, phone calls and faxes we have received since we launched Accenti Online last November strongly suggests that many share these views. Some of the comments are recopied in the following section.
In this first issue of Accenti, the cover story looks at the Italian Canadian community itself. Francesca L'Orfano presents some interesting arguments supported by statistical data which stand in stark contrast to the oversimplified and often stereotypical media portrayal of Italians, both in Canada and elsewhere. In addition, figures obtained from the 2001 Canadian Census provide a more focused snapshot of who and what Italian Canadians represent within the Great Canadian Mosaic. Ken Scambray presents some engaging "Italian American" insights on the issue of culture, identity and the media.
Three articles re-examine events which have marked the history of Italians in Canada. Filippo Salvatore comments on the designation as a Canadian historical monument of Madonna della Difesa Church in Montreal, followed by an interview with Canadian Heritage Minister Sheila Copps; Venera Fazio, in conversation with Antonino Mazza, revisits the incarceration of hundreds of Italian Canadians during World War II; Jim Zucchero provides both an objective and personal view of this still very sensitive topic. Julia D'Amedeo proposes a twist to the language debate, as she reports on the findings of a study on language acquisition.
No magazine would be complete without reviews. In this first issue, Accenti looks at the astonishing success of Italian Australian stand-up comic Joe Avati. Marisa De Franceschi reviews Nino Ricci's latest novel Testament, while Caterina Edwards reports on her experiences during the 2002 Paris book fair. In our literary section we feature a short story, "Call Display," by Delia De Santis and a poem, "After September 11, 2001," by Elettra Bedon.
I hope you enjoy the inaugural issue of Accenti. I want to thank our sponsors, our writers and everyone who has contributed in one way or another to putting this first issue together; and on their behalf I'd like to thank you, the reader.