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History & Founders

The Italian-Canadian Community Foundation was created in 1975 by visionary members of the Italian community who sought to foster change and positive growth close to home. The founding members are: Alfredo Campo, Hon. Pietro Rizzuto and Marc Donolo.

Only one year prior to the inauguration of the FCCI, in 1974, Mr. Alfredo Campo, who was the chairman of Petrofina Oil Company, was in fact the first president of the Italian-Canadians National Congress. His oil company would go on to be absorbed by Petro Canada, but his legacy at the Foundation lives on.

Hon. Pietro Rizzuto was a politician by calling. In 1963, he founded Inter State Paving, a construction company. After years of working hard as an entrepreneur, he was appointed in 1976 to the Senate of Canada by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. He was the first Canadian of Italian origin to be appointed to the Senate. Due to this accomplishment, he was made Grande Ufficiale of Italy's Order of Merit of the Republic. Hon. Pietro Rizzuto passed away in Montreal in 1997, but he too has made a lasting impact by contributing to the creation of the FCCI.

Mr. Marc Donolo was a respected businessman in Montreal, having established Donolo Construction, responsible for such landmarks as the Centre Mont Royal on Sherbrooke, the National Bank building in the old port, and the Bell Tower—to name only a few.

Both the Hon. Pietro Rizzuto and Mr. Donolo served as presidents of the FCCI in its early days. Following their terms, many other notable presidents came to serve the Foundation. Mike Minicucci, Giuseppe Di Battista, Vincenzo Cacciatore, Giuseppe Borsellino, Tony Meti, Silvio De Rose and Mario Galella all worked selflessly to improve the good work being done by the FCCI.

Mr. Mike Minicucci was the founder of CanCo Construction and an admired leader in the Italian community. He brought his experience as an entrepreneur and determined laborer to the Foundation, making him an exceptionally industrious president.


Mr. Giuseppe Di Battista was a senior banker at the original Bank of Montreal on Papineau and Jean-Talon and went on to provide his services at the new Caisse Desjardins after its inauguration. He counseled many of the city’s important businessmen, thus earning him recognition and gratitude from the community at large.

Mr. Vincenzo Cacciatore is best known for making strides in the food industry, namely with his successful chain of Bonanza grocery stores. His proximity to his clientele earned him an easy manner in public relations and rendered him an excellent president, to the benefit of the Foundation. Mr. Cacciatore is now retired in California, where he also enjoyed success as a wine maker.


Mr. Giuseppe Borsellino
is President of Petra Group. In 1983 he became a founding member of the FCCI whose primary purpose was to raise funds to build a community center for the Italian community of Montreal. He was President of the Foundation from 1988 to 1992, during which time he initiated the fundraising campaign with the Governors’ Ball Foundation, an event held every year since and on May 31, 2002, the Leonardo da Vinci Center was proudly unveiled. His social commitment is unique and undeniable, he continues to participate and provide support for fundraising campaigns of the FCCI and even today, he is Chairman of the Board of the Leonardo da Vinci Center

 

Mr. Tony Meti has been the President of G.D.N.P. Consulting Services, Inc. since 2007. Mr. Meti served as the Senior Vice-President, Commercial Banking and International, of National Bank Financial Group from 2002 to 2007 and also as its Senior Vice-President, Commercial North America, from  2000 to 2002.  He founded the Bal du Coeur for the Montreal Heart Institute Research Fund in 1997. He is well regarded for his philanthropic and community involvement.


Mr. Silvio De Rose is a notable Chartered Accountant and the current president of the Leonardo da Vinci Centre. In fact, the story of the Centre begins during De Rose’s term as Foundation president. At that time, members of the community were looking to establish a community centre that could complement the existing cultural building, the Casa d’Italia. In 1994, the Board of Directors took the first steps toward what would become one of the Foundation’s crowning achievements— the Leonardo da Vinci Centre. Some members of the community declaimed such extravagant aspirations, assuming that the community centre would not be sustainable in the long run. However, the determination of De Rose and his colleagues was immense.

Mr. Mario Galella is Vice-President Business Development for the Laurentian Bank of Canada. Mr. Galella has applied this philosophy to our Foundation since becoming a Governor in 1989. Mario Galella was always very involved in philanthropic, social and cultural activities in our community. From 2002 to 2006, he was President of the FCCI and Vice-President of the Leonardo da Vinci Centre. He was co-chair of the fundraising campaign for the realization of the Leonardo da Vinci Centre, a symbol of Italian unity in Montreal. Also, he is a member of the Canadian Italian Business Professionals Association (CIBPA), a member of the Chamber of Commerce, a member and former president of the Order Sons of Italy in Canada, member of National Congress of Italian-Canadians, Quebec Chapter and many other nonprofit organizations.

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A true group effort, plans for the centre developed through close collaboration between all levels of government, businesses, community members and associations. The official ribbon-cutting ceremony on the site in St. Leonard welcomed the new millennium and flung open the doors to this spacious, beautiful building. Built by master craftsmen and sustained by the Italian-Canadian Community Foundation, the impressive centre houses  theatres, classrooms, meeting rooms, a complete fitness centre—including a boccio-drome—along with the Foundation’s administrative offices. Gracing the Piazza del Centro is the Governors’ Wall of Honour where, every year, new names are added to our history. Strengthening bonds within the Italian population and between groups of all ages and cultures, the Centre will continue to benefit the community for decades to come. 

Once the new community centre was secure and prosperous in its activities, the FCCI shifted its focus to the Casa d’Italia in 2006. The Casa, though funded at the municipal, provincial and federal levels, was still in need of some capital in order to restore the historic building and render it serviceable to the community. Located at the corner of Jean Talon and Berri, the Casa d’Italia is a unique site in Montreal. The Casa d'Italia is a bona fide community centre where the Italian community meets, Italian culture is fostered and shared, and many intercultural exchanges take place.  

Today, Casa d’Italia is the base for a number of organizations: the Centre Culturel Italien du Québec, the Institut national d’assistance sociale (I.N.A.S.), the Order Sons of Italy in Canada, the Coro Alpino - Tre Venezie, Fogolar Furlan, and theatre and dance troupes. Casa d’Italia is an extraordinary heritage building of exceptional value. That is why, after consultations and a feasibility study, in 2006, the Casa d'Italia, a historic monument, was restored. 

As is evidenced by the rich history of the FCCI, this is a foundation that never sits back on its laurels and waits for change to come. The Foundation seeks out the areas where it can provide help and immediately begins the work to make change possible. With a past such as this, there is no doubt that the future will bring just as much success for the community.

 

 

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