Italian Fallen Workers Memorial
On April 28, 2016, the Committee for the Italian Fallen Workers Memorial Project, along with Villa Charities, with the support of the Consul General of Italy, and an incredible family of donors, was proud to Formally Unveil the Italian Fallen Workers Memorial Wall, honouring almost 1000 workers of Italian origin killed in workplace tragedies across Ontario. This year, we will be adding hundreds of names and broadening the project to include workers of Italian origin who were killed in these terrible tragedies across all of our great nation, from 1900 to today.
A crowd of over 300 that included several members of Ontario’s cabinet, leaders of Ontario’s Italian-Canadian community and numerous mourners gathered at the Italian Fallen Workers Memorial at the Villa Colombo Memorial Gardens on April 28 to pay tribute to more than 1,000 fallen workers.
The overwhelming number of fallen workers of Italian origin who were discovered after the Memorial Wall was unveiled last year were honoured as a new part of the Memorial Wall in the ceremony. The ceremony coincided with The International Day of Mourning for Fallen Workers – a day which formally recognizes all fallen workers.
Eleven prefabricated columns were unveiled last year in all their glory, and poignantly, but proudly, bear the names and dates of each Fallen Worker discovered by the committee up until the spring of 2016. Through the dedicated work of the Committee, almost 1,000 verified deaths were engraved on the Memorial leading up to the unveiling; this figure has now grown to over 1,500 this year, with hundreds of new names being actually engraved and affixed onto the columns at this year’s ceremony.
At this point, the committee recognizes that due to the overwhelming numbers and staggering statistics of the Italian Fallen Workers themselves, after this year’s engravings, there will no longer be any space remaining on the Memorial Wall for further engravings. The future of this project will be in the expansion to an online and on-site electronic database. This will take shape in the form of an electronic kiosk at the site, and a searchable database online. The very fact that the design originally conceived a maximum of 660 names, and we reached almost 1,000 last year, with hundreds more being added this year, gives some indication of the magnitude of this project. It is a sad story that runs deeper than ever imagined.
The committee is saddened to realize that this may be the biggest documented memorial to fallen workers worldwide, and certainly the biggest in Canada; this represents a poignant but tragic part of our Italo-Canadian heritage. Sadly, estimates of even more workplace tragedies for men of Italian origin number in the thousands, but remain undiscovered. Our committee vows to continue working to uncover as many of the Italian Fallen Workers killed in tragic workplace accidents; the search for their names will continue.
For further information on this incredible project, to offer any assistance, or to submit a name for Phase Three, please check our website: www.ItalianFallenWorkersMemorial.com, find us on Facebook, or email us. You can also find historical videos of our project on our Youtube Channel.
The Italian Fallen Workers Memorial Project is a joint effort with Villa Charities, and supported by the Consulate General of Italy in Toronto.