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Centro di Cultura Popolare


Opening the door to the cultural initiative

Over the years, since 1972, Franco Gucciardo integrated the cultural facet of the italo-canadian in most of the projects developed and supported by various organizations.
The initiative with the elderly required collaboration from the Istituto Italiano di Cultura; the activities with the CEGEP's had a cultural flavor; research projects also focused on the cultural status of the community.
By 1975, there were signs that the community was ready for an Italian public library.

With the documents supporting the need for a cultural centre / public library within the Italian community of Montreal, Franco Gucciardo prepared a plan for the establishment of such service.
The project initiative was presented to the NCIC Foundation for support.  A letter signed by Tom D'Errico, Vice-President, was written to that effect.  There was no lack of moral support; however, to set up a library, more than moral support is required.  Monseigneur Cimichella and the Italian parishes supported more tangibly the project because of their acknowledgement for Gucciardo's track record during his previous community development activities.  For additional information on these events, you may link to the COPRAS page.

Project preparations started in the summer of 1975

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In December 1976, Franco Gucciardo was appointed General Manager of the N.C.I.C. Foundation.  He brought to the organization his vision of the Italian Community and a vast experience in community development, both necessary to achieve tangible results in his new mandate.
Projects supporting Cultural initiatives were directed by Gucciardo and sponsored administratively by the NCIC Foundation (*).  Summer jobs were created to produce filmed documentaries, accumulate additional books for the community library, accept archival materials, and more.  Gennaro Stabile, Gaetano Mariano and many others contributed to the success of these projects.
Later, at the end of a culturally related initiative Pro-Development, where Tony Caticchio was employed, Gucciardo accepted the offer of Mr. Caticchio to remain at the library without a fixed salary and help out.
In 1980, Gucciardo invited Caticchio to write-up a project proposal covering the various objectives of the cultural centre (then housed at the Casa d'Italia).  With this project, Caticchio was to administer the Centre on a full time basis.
During those years, several schools were closed by the Montreal Catholic School Commission.  The idea of gaining access to St-Philippe Benizi school for the Italian community cultural centre was entertained at several meetings.  That school had a strong legacy for many italo-canadians as it was linked to Notre-Dame de la Defénse church and its pastoral participation.  St-Philippe Benizi: the Italian centre that could have been.

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A research was commissioned to better understand the current cultural needs of the community

Documents showing the evolution and struggles of the Centro di Cultura Popolare in the early 1980's

Sample of the historical booklet produced with a Federal grant.

(*) The N.C.I.C. Foundation was divided in two organizations in 1978:  the Fondation communautaire canadienne-italienne du Québec and the Services communautaires canadiens-italiens du Québec.  The latter becoming responsible for community development and services.