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History

Founding + Early History

The Canadian Italian Business and Professional Association (CIBPA) of Toronto was founded in 1952 and officially incorporated on December 21, 1956. It was originally named the Canadian Italian Businessmen's Association (CIBA). But, in recognition of the increasing number of Italian Canadians who were joining various other professions, and the growing number of professional women, the name was changed to its current title. 

The association was orginally formed to address difficulties experienced by Italian immigrants seeking to establish themselves in Canadian society. Many early immigrants struggled to meet the basic needs of their families, such as food and shelter, as well as transportation and employment. These difficulties were only made worse by the effect of World War II and the influx of immigrants to Toronto in the 1950's.

Wanting to address these struggles and help those in need, a small group of business people and professionals from the Italian Canadian community in Greater Toronto established the CIBA. Their Charter goals at the time were:

  1. To undertake fundraising efforts to assist victims of natural disasters (such as the Po Valley flood in 1951)
  2. To support charitable organizations
  3. To help newly landed immigrants

While working on these philanthropic objectives, the CIBA evolved to also serve as the crossroads for business interaction between members. What began as a simple initiative to help their community, grew into a network that valued strong business relationships and a shared respect for culture and professionalism. This dynamic has been fostered for over 60 years and is a legacy evident in the interaction of members to this day. 

Community Leadership

As the organization grew, further attracting talented business and professional members, the CIBPA's role and mandate expanded. The association became a key vehicle for organizing and developing financial resources to launch needed community projects. This process of growth and change established CIBPA members as leaders within their community, with the expertise and drive to turn project concepts into tangible realities. 

Some of the projects initiated and/or greatly supported by CIBPA members are the formation and operation of

  1. The Italian Immigrant Aid Society (IIAS)
  2. The Centro Organizzativo Scuole Tecniche Italiane (COSTI)
  3. The Federazione di Associazioni e Club Italiani (FACI)
  4. The Da Vinci Scholarship Foundation
  5. The Italian Canadian Benevolent Corporation (ICBC) [now called Villa Charities]
  6. Villa Colombo Home for the Aged
  7. Caboto Terrace Apartments for Senior
  8. Columbus Centre

As well as these larger projects, the CIBPA has proudly supported many other charitable causes, in and outside of the Italian community, including: the Italian Catholic Services, Toronto Western Hospital, Wellesley Hospital, the Canadian Cancer Society, and the Columbus Boy's Camp, to name just a few.

And, along with the Montreal Chapter, CIBPA of Toronto spear-headed the expansion of the Federation from their two Chapters to twelve. The National Federation now includes Chapters in Hamilton, London, Montreal, Niagara Falls, Ottawa, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Windsor, Winnipeg, and Vancouver.

Member Growth

The Italian community in the Toronto area and the rest of Canada as well has evolved and expanded significantly since the early 1950s. This has been reflected in the composition of the association's membership over the years.

In the early years, members were often men who owned small or medium sized businesses, and there were relatively few professionals. Now, both men and women of Italian origin can be found in every sector of Canadian business and professional life, which is reflected in our current membership. We have a diverse range of members who come from small, privately owned companies to the largest private and public sector corporations. Diversity is a theme geographically as well, with members living across the Metropolitan Toronto Area and in many of the adjoining cities. 

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