Villa Charities Inc.

Villa Charities Inc.

April 28, 2016 15:59 ET

Memorial for More Than 1,000 Fallen Italian-Canadian Workers Unveiled in Toronto

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 28, 2016) -

Editors Note: There is a photo and a video associated with this press release.

A memorial honouring more than 1,000 Italian workers who died in workplace accidents in Ontario was unveiled at Villa Charities' Toronto campus today.

The unveiling ceremony coincides with the International Day of Mourning for workers killed, injured or disabled on the job. The event was attended by fallen workers' families, a long list of community and political leaders including Toronto Mayor John Tory, Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland, Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca, Labour Minister Kevin Flynn and Italy's Ambassador to Canada, His Excellency Gian Lorenzo Cornado, Villa Charities leaders, union officials and many community members.

The memorial is the culmination of a six-year effort to formally recognize the enormous sacrifices of Italian workers in Ontario's construction and industrial development for more than a century.

"For years it bothered me that no one remembered the workers who died," says Marino Toppan, project leader and a former construction worker and union organizer. "It's important that the new generation knows about the price paid by their fathers and grandfathers to build this beautiful country."

The memorial is comprised of 11 columns bearing the names of the fallen workers, including two women, identified to date. It is located next to the Villa Colombo Toronto gardens, within Villa Charities' Lawrence-Dufferin campus.

"Villa Charities is proud that our campus, the cultural heart of the GTA's Italian community, is the permanent home to this wonderful monument," says Eligio Gaudio, CEO of Villa Charities Inc., which played a key role in the memorial project. Villa Charities provides housing and long-term care for seniors, and celebrates and promotes the Italian heritage through educational and cultural programs at the Columbus Centre.

Gaudio adds, "We are also honoured to serve as the memorial's custodian for future generations, who now have a lasting testament to the enormous sacrifices of Italian immigrants in the development of our province."

More names will be added to the memorial as additional workplace victims are identified from past records.

"We will keep digging to identify all of the workers who died so that they are never forgotten and can rest in peace," says Toppan, who worked closely on the initiative with a committee composed of Gino Cucchi, Fulvio Florio, Mario Marra, Fortunato Rao, Odoardo Di Santo, Paola Breda and Pal Di Iulio.

The memorial was designed and built on a pro bono basis by Giannone Petricone Architects and Dominus Construction Group and its trades. Other costs are being covered by donations from the community.

To donate online, please visit Donations can also be dropped off at the Columbus Centre reception, to the attention of "Villa Charities - Memorial."

To learn more about the memorial, please visit or email Videos on this yet-untold story of Canadian history can be viewed on YouTube via the memorial website, and on Facebook by searching Italian Fallen Workers Memorial.

About Villa Charities

Villa Charities Inc. is a registered charity that cultivates, promotes and celebrates our culture as Italian-Canadians. For more than 40 years across the GTA, Villa Charities has provided care for seniors and offered educational and cultural programs in music, dance, visual arts, culinary arts, athletics and more. The Villa Charities family includes Villa Colombo Services for Seniors in Toronto; Villa Colombo Vaughan/Di Poce Centre; Caboto Terrace, Casa Del Zotto and Casa Abruzzo apartments for independent seniors; the Columbus Centre; and J.D. Carrier Art Gallery. For more information, visit

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