City Builders & Myseum of Toronto exhibit at the Columbus Centre

The City Builders’ exhibit at the Columbus Centre, part of this year’s Myseum of Toronto Intersections festival, was launched on March 24 with a reception held in that Italian-Canadian community space. About 50 guests attended the event, which started out with a series of brief speeches from Emanuele Lepri (Villa Charities/ Columbus Centre), Jeremy Diamond (Myseum of Toronto), Jason Ottey (LIUNA Local 183), Gabriele Scardellato (Mariano A. Elia Chair in Italian Canadian Studies), and a presentation by the project manager Dr. Gilberto Fernandes. After the audience members toured the exhibit, they were able to ask questions directly to Dr. Fernandes and Marino Toppan – a retired construction worker, union organizer, and key interviewee in the City Builders documentary. Members of the press were also present, including CityNews and OMNI TV (Italian programming), which reported about the event in their evening news.

Photos by Vincenzo Pietropaolo

The CBC (radio and online) also interviewed me for a story about the City Builders exhibit. You can read the article here. Unfortunately, the article attracted white supremacist and anti-immigration remarks in the comments section, which I addressed in Twitter thread, here.

Given the large public interest and turnout, we extended the length of the exhibit for an extra week. The end date is now April 7.

City Builders featured in RTPi’s “Hora dos Portugueses”

My City Builders project was featured in an episode of the show “Hora dos Portugueses” on Portugal’s international public TV broadcaster RTPi. You can watch it here (starting at 9’15”).

O meu projeto City Builders foi foco de uma reportagem no programa “Hora dos Portugueses” na RTPi. Pode ver o episódio aqui (início ao minuto 9’15”).

 

My new research/ public history project: City Builders: An Oral History of Immigrant Construction Workers in Postwar Toronto

Website photos 1Last September, I started a new research and public history project called City Builders: An Oral History of Immigrant Construction Workers in Postwar Toronto, associated with York University’s Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies and the Laborers International Union of North America Local 183. This project will record, examine, and divulge the history of Toronto’s immigrant construction workers after the Second World War. It will do so by gathering extensive qualitative information through filmed oral history interviews, by photographing the participants’ personal records and artifacts, and by conducting extensive research in Toronto’s archives. I will be leading a team of researchers (including York students) and filmmakers, who will interview forty retired members of Local 183, focusing on their goals, struggles, achievements, and thoughts on immigration, construction work, labour organization, Toronto, and other topics of significance. With these materials, we will produce forty short videos and one 15-minute documentary that will be featured in a multimedia exhibition. The exhibit’s launch and the screening of the documentary will coincide with the 2018 Avie Bennett Conference at York University, taking place on September 2018. All of the materials gathered and produced by this project will be donated to the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections, York University Libraries, once the project is completed.

You can read the article that York University’s YFile newsletter published about it here. And find more information about the project in the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies website here.

“Summer of ’77”: thank you note.

 

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We had lots of news coverage, including Laura Fraser’s story on CBC.ca – today’s editors pick – and CBC Radio, with contributions from some of our panelists.

In case you missed our roundtable discussion last night, you can watch the live recording on the Gallery of the Portuguese Pioneers’ Facebook page (apologies for the technical difficulties). The audio recording of the presentations will be made available on ActiveHistory.ca at a later date.

Follow or contact the presenters Gilberto FernandesDaniel RossTom Hooper, and Valerie Scott for more information on their research and advocacy.