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Thursday February 28, 2008

Celebrating entrepreneurial spirit

 CIIM Canada gala dinner recognized Italian-Canadian business leaders
By Simona Giacobbi

By Simona Giacobbi

Exporting the Canadian entrepreneurial spirit to Italy – that’s the objective of the Confederazione degli imprenditori italiani nel mondo (Confederation of International Italian Entrepreneurs) in 2008, which last Tuesday celebrated a year of successful growth at the CIIM Canada 2007 Awards Gala Dinner.
The event, which was presented by CIIM Canada and Multimedia Nova along with Corriere Canadese and Tandem at the Riviera Parque Banquet Hall, honored those Italians who came to Canada and made successful lives for themselves. They are individuals who are proud of their Italian heritage and have been able to make a positive difference.
“The Gala was a great success,” said Leonardo Kosarew, president of CIIM Canada, the CIIM coordinating committee for North America as well as founding member of CIIM Italy. “It was a very constructive evening of networking, culture and togetherness. From the awarding of the prizes (designed by architect Massimo Malacrida) to the wonderful piano playing of Michelangelo Carbonara, which received a standing ovation and three minutes of applause.
“There were some intense and touching moments like when Andrea Bargnani, winner of the 2007 CIIM Canada Ambassador Award, told the media and photographers who he had attracted to the event, how happy he was to be there that night, and like when 19-year-old Frances Tibollo was presented as the winner of the Giovanni Caboto Award.
Also in attendance was Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty who, having met us only the previous night, paid great attention to CIIM’s 2008 mandate, and to the prospect of the business that Canada can offer to Italian companies. And that’s exactly what we will do. Unlike in 2007, when we focused on Italy, in 2008 we will focus on Canada and opportunities. We would also like to thank Lori Abittan, President and CEO of Multimedia.”
The event, which was hosted by CTV’s Ken Shaw, hosted guests like Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.
“Ours is a history of trade,” said Flaherty. “I recently participated in the G7 meeting and I can say that Canada is a nation of ‘free traders.’ Our government has always believed in liberal commercial exchange. While there may be some difficulties on the horizon, our economic base is solid. Because of the fact that Canada is a trading nation, we can guarantee a certain quality of life. We are one of the strongest nations in the world and we know how to be competitive with other nations. We have low unemployment and inflation is under control. All this helps guarantee a certain quality of life for our children. This is the story of Canadian immigration and, as of today, we can also define it as an economic immigration.”

Another positive incentive, according to Kosarew, is the fact that Italian businesses are investing more in Canada.
The pride of being Italian was the common denominator among those who won the important award, which was made all the more prestigious by support from the office of Italy’s prime minister.
“It’s a great initiative,” reads a statement signed by Romano Prodi. “Italy would like to maintain a connection with all its citizens throughout the world, many of whom have made our country and culture proud through their business and professional successes.”
Among these people is the aforementioned Frances Tibollo, a young Italian-Canadian student at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, who founded and is currently president of the Oaklands Foundation to help educate developing nations.
“It’s a sense of community that brought me where I am today,” said Tibollo, remembering Caboto, the first Italian explorer in North America. “We need to believe in and encourage youth. I feel a real connection with Giovanni Caboto. I have a responsibility to keep doing what I’m doing because I know it can make a difference in our society. We need to believe in and encourage each other.”
Mario Cortelluci, born in 1941 in Teramo and currently the Executive Vice President of CIIM and President of the Cortelli Group, won the 2007 Entrepreneur of the Year award. “I’d like to thank my wife Ginesia, and my children Maria, Pietro, Romina and Stefano for their support,” he said. “But I would not be here today were it not for one person: my father, Pietro Cortellucci. We arrived in Canada 40 years ago and we managed to affirm ourselves thanks to our traditions, our integrity, our honesty and our work. On behalf of the University Youth Foundation, I thank you for your contribution to helping the needy children of the world.”

Teresa Cascioli, of the Teresa Cascioli Charitable foundation was the winner of the woman’s 2007 Entrepreneur of the Year Award. “I was born in Hamilton to Italian parents,” she explained, “and I didn’t speak much English at school. Now, unfortunately, I speak Italian poorly. I’ve been CEO of Lakeport Brewing, which was founded by hard working and intelligent people who were always at the forefront of business, and made making wise and quick decisions. I thank them, my family, and God for their support.”

The guests enjoyed a great musical performance by Italian pianist Michelangelo Carbonara who also performed a rock-classical music duet with Montreal’s Denis Gagné, from the band Musical Box.
Guests also enjoyed dessert that was provided by Toulà Restaurant.