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      New group hopes to unite young Italian-Montrealers

      Mar. 21, 2014

      When Italian-born Gabriele Borsoi moved to Montreal in 2012, he was eager to continue his career in aerospace and to integrate into the local Italian community.

      “I was surprised by two things. I couldn’t easily find the young people of our community. There was a disconnect there. And I felt like I took a time machine to my country of the 1950s,” Borsoi explains.

      These observations became a topic of conversation with young Italian-Montrealers he met. Not long after, the idea to create an association to curtail that disconnect came into fruition.

      Borsoi brought together a group of young and dynamic like-minded individuals who shared an understanding and appreciation for modern day Italy. And, more importantly, who shared his passion to create a connection between young Montrealers and their Italian counterparts.

      The Montreal Young Italian-Canadian Association (MYICA) is a non-profit, non-partisan association committed to uniting the youth – of Italian heritage or otherwise – with modern Italian culture.

      Joanne Napolitano was one of the first on board with Borsoi’s idea. Napolitano has degrees in Translation, Italian Studies and Education, and grew up speaking an impeccable Italian.

      “My parents taught me Italian at home, and not dialect, so that I would avoid a culture shock when I visited Italy,” she explains.

      During her time in Italy, Napolitano realized that the Italian culture in Montreal was frozen in time. When she returned to Montreal, her dual identity was strengthened and she now hopes to feel more connected to the Italian culture through her work as MYICA Secretary.

      IT Coordinator Michael Miele was born and raised in Montreal by Italian parents. At the age of ten, his family moved to Saint-Lazare, an off-island suburb of Montreal with no real Italian community presence.

      “There was definitely a disconnect. For me, Montreal was ‘Italian’ since that’s all I knew about Montreal,” Miele explained.

      He hopes that his work with MYICA will prepare him for his first trip to Italy.

      MYICA’s Vice-President and Event Coordinator, Sabrina Mercuri, was born in Montreal and lived in Europe for many years. She spent most of her twenties in Italy, finally returning to Montreal at the age of 29.

      “It was difficult to adapt to everyday life in Italy. Canada is a very functional country. In Italy, things are very nonchalant,” Mercuri comments.

      Mercuri’s attachment to her Italian roots remains strong, and she hopes to further strengthen that bond through the association.

      Vanessa Orsini shares the Event Coordinator position with Mercuri. Over the years she has lived in Argentina, Brazil, Italy and Canada. The pessimism inherit in present-day Italian society was a difficult reality for her. But, the diversity in each region of Italy amazed her.

      “I really want to transmit all I’ve learnt in Italy with my community in Montreal,” Orsini explains.

      Nicholas La Monaca, Academic Relations and Treasurer, accomplished what most Italian-Canadian athletes could only imagine. At the age of 16 he moved to Italy to play professional soccer. An injury would curb his soccer career, and so he returned to Montreal to study. His new goal is a doctorate degree.

      External Relations manager Anne-Darla Lucia Del Negro Jennings considers herself a citizen of the world. Her father was born in Belgium to Italian parents. Her mother is part Belgium, part Métis and part African-American.

      “Before joining MYICA I was really never interested in community groups, especially Italian community groups. I never really felt like I fit in,” Del Negro Jennings admits.

      “It was Nick who convinced me to join. He told me, ‘you are very Montreal and you’re in tune with social media. You can bring a lot to MYICA,’” she adds.

      Under Borsoi’s presidency, this group of seven is spearheading a movement to unite the young generation of Italians in Montreal.

      “I want to give something to the Italian community. I have no goal in terms of numbers, funding, events,” Borsoi comments.

      “My goal will be reached when I see young Italians in Montreal having fun, connecting through us and enjoying the Italian culture as it is now.”

      The MYICA will be hosting its first official event next Friday, March 28, from 6:00PM to 8:00PM at the Casa d’Italia (505 Jean Talon Street in Little Italy). Cibo di Strada will offer up tastings of piadina, porchetta, arancini, caffè and gelato. Tickets cost $20.00 and need to be purchased in advance.

      For more information about the Montreal Young Italian-Canadian Association, please visit

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