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      Book celebrates the Italians of Cape Breton

      Jun. 8, 2017

      Italian Lives: Cape Breton MemoriesA collection of stories and articles that celebrates and examines the Italian community of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, is now out as a 2nd edition. Italian Lives: Cape Breton Memories offers dozens and dozens of articles, interviews, memoirs and stories as seen through the eyes of Italians living in the eastern Canadian community, from the late 19th century onwards.

      The collection of stories covers themes of immigration experiences, the treatment of Italians during the Second World War, family life, work life in the local steel and coal industries as well as in politics and law, commerce, medicine and religion, arts, culture cuisine, cultural identity, and so on.

      In 1871, 40 Italians resided in Nova Scotia, with a mere five in Cape Breton. Today they number in the thousands.

      The book, originally published in 1999, was the brainchild of professor and anthropologist Sam Migliore and the late academic Lino Polegato. The colleagues were educators at University College of Cape Breton (now known as Cape Breton University). In 1993, Polegato suddenly passed away. Realizing he couldn’t go it alone, Migliore approached Evo DiPierro.

      DiPierro was born and raised in Cape Breton. In the early 1990s he was a recent University College of Cape Breton grad and working for the Federal Government. He was considering returning to school to study law.

      “Sam tells me, we’re going to write articles about Italian families. I asked him how long would it take. Sam said, oh, a few more months. It took five years,” DiPierro muses.

      “Sam and Lino worked on it for awhile before I came on board. We tried to meet as many Italians as possible. Of the 3000 Italians in Cape Breton, I would say I met about 20%,” he continues.

      Today, Evo DiPierro is a Catholic Priest serving in Antigonish County, Nova Scotia. Sam Migliore now teaches at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey, British Columbia.

      “In 2016 I had two copies of the book. My brother Nick had a friend who wanted a copy. I gave her a copy, so I just had one left,” DiPierro.

      Last fall, Cape Breton University Press (CBU Press) approached Migliore and DiPierro about reissuing a second edition. The reason was simple; requests were continually coming in for the out-of-print book.

      Over a 3-month period, DiPierro, Migliore and Mike Hunter from CBU Press – all now residing in different parts of Canada – worked together to revise and update the book. The book was published this past March.

      The new edition features an updated Preface and Introduction, and acknowledges those Italians who have passed away since the first edition.

      “This book allows us to keep the stories of the Italians of Cape Breton alive. What got me were some of the candid thoughtful discussions in the book. Questions of personal identity. Frank narratives. Not all experiences were good experiences,” DiPierro reflects.

      “I don’t want to get too spiritual, but, my parents passed away in 2015, then in 2016 I get a letter from the publisher about reprinting the book. The Good Lord is telling me, look, your parents are gone, but your parents and Italians are counting on you to keep their stories alive. That meant something to me.”

      Italian Lives: Cape Breton Memories is available on Amazon and directly from the publisher at The official book launch takes places this Friday, June 9, from 2:00PM to 4:00PM, at the Beaton Institute at Cape Breton University. The launch is open to the public.

      One Response to “Book celebrates the Italians of Cape Breton”

      1. […] We’ve had some nice comments/reviews about the new edition of Italian Lives, Cape Breton Memories, including the Halifax Chronicle Herald, The Casket and the Cape Breton Post, and […]