The History of CIBPA
The Canadian Italian Business and Professional Association (CIBPA) was founded in Montreal in 1949. Shortly thereafter, a chapter in Toronto was chartered in 1952 and officially incorporated on December 21, 1956. It was originally named the Canadian Italian Businessmen's Association (CIBA). However, in recognition of the many Italian Canadians who were joining the professions and the number of women entering the business and professional worlds, the name was later changed to "Canadian Italian Business and Professional Association".
The reasons behind the Association's formation are rooted in the difficulties experienced by legions of Italian immigrants seeking to establish themselves in Canadian society. For all too many immigrants, the challenge was finding ways and means of fulfilling the most basic of human needs, such as for food and shelter, as well as transportation and employment. Those difficulties became increasingly more intense following World War II, as ever larger numbers of immigrants arrived in Montreal and Toronto.
Seeing the problems and their effects on so many people, a small group of business and professional people from the Toronto area Italian Canadian community joined together and established the CIBA. According to its Charter, the objectives of the Association were:
- To undertake fundraising efforts to assist victims of natural disasters (such as the Po Valley flood in 1951)
- To support charitable organizations
- To help newly arrived immigrants
In pursuing these objectives, the CIBA also became a crossroad of interaction for its members. As a result, many vigorous business relationships were initiated, which continue to thrive today. These relationships form the primary basis for the Association's continuing vitality.
With its ability to attract talented business and professional people, the Association has been able to serve another important function in the community. It became a key vehicle for bringing people together who had the ability to organize and develop the financial resources needed to launch a number of important community projects. In doing so, it also provided Toronto's growing Italian Canadian community with the leadership necessary to turn project concepts into material realities.
Included among the projects initiated by CIBPA members or ones in which they were major participants were the formation and operation of the Italian Immigrant Aid Society (IIAS); the Centro Organizzativo Scuole Tecniche Italiane (COSTI); the Federazione di Associazioni e Club Italiani (FACI); the Da Vinci Scholarship Foundation; the Italian Canadian Benevolent Corporation (ICBC); Villa Colombo Home for the Aged; Caboto Terrace Apartments for Seniors, and the Columbus Centre. Besides direct or indirect involvement with these larger projects, the CIBPA has generously supported many other charitable causes over the years, both in and outside of the Italian community. Included among these are: Italian Catholic Services, Toronto Western Hospital, Wellesley Hospital, the Canadian Cancer Society, Hospital for Sick Children, Columbus Boys' Camp, and Villa Charities, to mention just a few.
The Italian community in the Toronto area and throughout Canada has expanded significantly since the early 1950s. Changes in the community have been reflected in the Association's membership. In the early years it consisted mainly of men who owned their own small or medium sized businesses and few professionals. Now, both men and women of Italian origin can be found in virtually every area of business and all the professions. This diversity corresponds to the CIBPA's current membership, composed of Italian Canadians from the greater Metropolitan areas and many adjoining cities.
The CIBPA of Toronto is also a charter member of the National Federation of CIBPAs. Along with the Montreal Chapter of the Federation, Toronto spearheaded the expansion of the Federation from two Chapters to twelve. The National Federation now includes Chapters in Hamilton, Montreal, Ottawa, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Windsor, Sault Ste. Marie, Winnipeg, and Calgary.
Thunder Bay's chapter was incorporated on May 13, 1993.
A primary function of the Federation is to unite the Italian Canadian business and professional community across Canada, with the further purpose of promoting more business interaction among Canadian Italians throughout the country and providing a stronger and more influential voice for the Italian Canadian business and professional community in our nation's decision-making process.