Carm Squeo: “We came to a new country, you’d think that we would change, but we didn’t. It didn’t happen that way. We stayed, kept all our traditions and still think the old way…“
Tony Squeo:”Sono venuto qui in Canada quando avevo dicotto anni. Sono arrivato in pieno inverno, facevo freddo enorme. Io non era abituato al freddo. Piaciuto moltissimo in Canada, e ancore oggi sono fiero di essere italiano e canadese. I’m very proud to be Italian and Canadian.”
Table of Contents
Ho conosciuto Carm e Tony per la maggior parte della mia vita, da quando mia zia Amy ha sposato il loro figlio Steve, nel 2008.
Entrambi provenivano dalla stessa città in Italia, chiamati Celle di San Vito, ma lo chiamano Celle. È una comunità molto piccolo nelle montagne della Daunia, nella regione della Puglia. La città ha pochissimi abitanti ed è molto isolata. Carm era venuta in Canada con sua madre e sua sorella quando era molte giovane. Con suo padre, hanno vissuto nell’Ontario del Nord prima di andare a vivere a Brantford. La sua famiglia ha dovuto vivere con vari amici e parenti prima che potesse vivere nella propria casa, perché molti proprietari non volevano i famiglie con bambini piccoli.
Tony aveva una storia diversa da raccontare. Aveva deciso di venire in Canada con suo fratello, invece di andare con il resto della sua famiglia negli Stati Uniti. Era quasi un adulto quando è venuto qui, quindi affrontò molte lotte per trovare un lavoro. Inoltre, non parlava inglese, quindi ha reso ancora più difficile. Alla fine ha finito per lavorare nella costruzione, che era qualcosa che non aveva mai fatto prima.
Carm and Tony hanno detto che devono essersi conosciuti quando erano bambini. Tuttavia, Carm è venuto in Canada quando aveva sette anni, quindi non si vedevano più. Non è stato fino a quando il fratello di Tony ha sposato sua zia, e Tony è andato a vivere con loro, che si sono incontrati di nuovo.
Molte persone che emigrano spesso seguono i familiari o i amici. In entrambi i casi Carm e Tony avevano già della famiglia che viveva in Canada chi li ha sponsorizzati. Sponsorizzare qualcuno significa essere responabili del proprio benessere e di provvedere a loro fino a quando non possono sostenere se stessi. Molte famiglie che hanno lasciato l’Italia si riuniranno lentamente quando stabilirono le loro nuove vite qui in Canada. Questo è perché tante persone di Celle di San Vito sono finite nell’Ontario del Sud. Spesso, il viaggio verso un nuovo paese può sembrare meno difficile se sei con le persone a cui tieni.
Ero molto interessato alla comunità che avevano creato a Brantford. Quindi, ho fatto alcune domande a mia zia a lei mi ha mostrato il gruppo di facebook che avevano creato per rimanere in contatto con tutti. Ogni anno hanno un picnic e una festa di Natale, mostrano le foto dei loro bambini che fanno i concerti, e anche dire la loro simpatie quando qualcuno muore.
Verso la fine della mia intervista con Carm e Tony, hanno iniziato a parlare di qualcosa di molto interessante. Li ho sempre conosciuti per mantenere molte tradizioni italiane sul cibo e sulla famiglia. Però, quando sono tornati nella loro città natale, notarono che molte persone avevano dimenticato molte tradizioni. Carm aveva detto che “Sono cambiati. Siamo venuti in un nuovo paese, penseresti che avremmo cambiato, ma non l’abbiamo fatto.” Pensavo che fosse interessante, perché molte persone avrebbero pensato che le persone che andavano in un nuovo paese avrebbero cambiato di più. Tuttavia, molte di queste persone venute dall’Italia hanno cercato di mantenere vive le loro tradizioni e stili di vita. Forse questo è un modo per portare l’Italia in Canada, o forse un modo per affrontare lasciando la loro casa dietro.
Mi piaceva molto ascoltare ciò che Carm e Tony avevano da dire e è stato stimolante sentire quanto sono orgoglioso di essere italiano e canadese. Sono felice di aver avuto l’opportunità di ascoltare le loro storie e spero che ispireranno gli altri come hanno fatto con me.
I have known Carm and Tony for most of my life, because my aunt Amy married their son, Steve in 2008.
Both of them had lived in the same town in Italy, called Celle di San Vito, which they refer to simply as Celle. It is a very small community up in the Daunian Mountains with very few inhabitants. Carm had come over with her mother and sister when she was very young, living up in Northern Ontario for a while before moving down to Brantford. Her family had to live with various friends and family members before finally moving into their own house, since many landlords did not want to lease to families with children. Tony had a slightly different story to tell, since he decided to come to Canada with his brother instead of going to Ohio with his parents. Being almost an adult at the time, he had many struggles finding work here in Canada. He also spoke no English, which made it even harder. Eventually he ended up working in construction, which he had never done before.
Carm and Tony said that they must have known each other when they were children, however when Carm came to Canada they lost contact. It wasn’t until his brother married her aunt, and Tony went to live with them that the two met again.
Many people who immigrate often follow family members or friends. In both their cases, Carm and Tony had relatives already living in Canada who sponsored them over. To sponsor someone includes being wholly responsible for their well-being and providing for them until they are able to support themselves. Many families who left Italy would slowly rejoin as they established their new lives here in Canada. This makes sense as to why so many from the village of Celle di San Vito ended up within southern Ontario. In most cases, home is the people you surround yourself with, meaning that the journey to a new country may seem less daunting if you are with the people you care about.
I was very intrigued about the community they had formed in Brantford. As I asked my aunt some questions, she showed me the Facebook group they had created to stay connected within their community. Every year they have picnics and Christmas parties, they post photos of their children’s concerts, and even share their sympathies when someone passes away.
Near the end of our interview, the topic took an interesting turn. I have always known Carm and Tony to keep many Italian traditions regarding food and family life. What I was not expecting was how they perceived Italian culture back in their home town when they would go visit. Carm stated at one point, “They changed. We came to a new country, you’d think that we would change but we didn’t”. I found this interesting because many people would assume those who immigrate to new countries would be more likely to conform themselves to the new cultures. However, many of these people who came from Italy worked hard to keep their traditions and lifestyles alive. Perhaps this is a way to bring Italy to Canada, or maybe a way to cope with leaving the known behind.
Overall, I enjoyed hearing what they had to say, and it was inspiring to hear how proud they are to be both a mixture of Italian and Canadian. I am glad to have had the opportunity to listen to their stories and I hope they will inspire others as they did me.
Carm and Tony’s Transcript
K.M: So, to start I want to ask, why did you leave Italy?
Carm Squeo: Well my parents… I came young, of course. My parents came for a better life really. My father went up north in the gold mine. So, we lived there for about a couple of years and then we came to Brantford.
K.M: Where about up north?
C.S: Mackenzie Island it was called. On the border of Winnipeg and Northern Ontario.
K.M: How old were you?
C.S: I was seven. My dad came first, and he was there for a year and then my mother, myself and my sister came a year later. It wasn’t easy. Even at 7 years old it wasn’t easy.
K.M: Did your family know anybody else who was already living here before you came to Canada?
C.S: Yeah, my uncle was here first. You have to do papers of course, you can’t just come. They had to kind of sponsor you. So, my uncle sponsored my father and then he brought us over, sponsored us. You have to have someone sponsor you. You have to be responsible for that person. And he was there up north at the time too.
K.M: Why did you eventually come to Brantford?
C.S: My mother didn’t like it up there. Hated it! (Laughing)
Tony Squeo: Too cold!
C.S: She hated it. I really don’t know because I was very young. I’m just assuming after a while… Well while we were there, we had misfortune, our house burnt down. We lived in an apartment building and it burnt down, and it really bothered my mother. It was isolated, so she didn’t like that. I don’t know if that’s the reason we came here, or after a couple years the job was done. I’m not sure.
C.S: When we came to Brantford from up north, it was hard for us too to find an apartment for us to live, because at the time if you had children, nobody would rent you a house or an apartment for some reason. So, we had to go live with my friend, a distance relation really, it’s Steve’s godmother actually. We had to go live with them for six months. So, they were nice enough, that’s how close we all were. You know in that town, is that they provided us their house, food and everything for six months, almost as if they were sponsoring us, even though we had only come from up north. Until we bought a house, because nobody would rent us a house because my parents had two small children and I guess nobody wanted children! (Laughing) I don’t know why. Maybe they thought they would destroy the place.
K.M: I know the town you came from in Italy, there is quite a few people from there now living in Brantford.
C.S: Yes, there is quite a few.
K.M: I was wondering if any of you knew each other coming over at the same time?
T.S: Yes, we know those people in Italy, the ones in Brantford, we have a lot of community in Brantford. From the same village we come.
C.S: Yeah, we knew them all. Its such a small town that everybody knows everybody.
Amy Squeo: So, who came to Brantford first?
C.S: My uncle. So, he came here on his own, they were young, but my father was married with children. But him and my other uncle, Luigi, they were single. So, they came here, so that’s when they sponsored my father too. He did, the one. And then it was my father who sponsored me. And the other brother. See you just sponsor, and you bring your whole family one at a time. We were the first ones to come from Celle in our family, but there were other people before then that came from the same town.
T.S: Four young people they come from Celle. And then they sponsor their families. And now we are quite a few in Brantford from the same town.
K.M: Was it difficult to sponsor people. Or was it a straight forward process?
C.S: No, it’s just a lot of paper work. Of course, you have to be responsible for that person, because they couldn’t find a job right away, they had to life with you. You had to feed them.
T.S: Like when I came here, my brother sponsored me. So, if I no find a job, or don’t work, my brother had to look after me. Give me some money, give me some food, a house to stay in and things like that. It’s a guarantee.
K.M: The area where Celle is, they have a specific dialect. Do either of you speak it?
C.S: Both of us speak it. My parents, that’s what they spoke to me growing up.
K.M: Do you speak standard Italian as well?
C.S: Well I don’t speak it, but I understand it. Tony does, because he went to school in Italy. He came here when he was 18. So, he had all his schooling in Italy, he didn’t go to school here. He speaks well Italian because of that.
K.M: So, when you came here Carm, you learned in English at school? Was that difficult?
C.S: Yes. Well, I guess when you’re a child it’s not as difficult. Because, um, well I guess it was. When I came here, I had already completed grade one. I was in grade two. So, when I went up there, it was only one school. I had to start all over, like they put me back in grade one. And of course, it was Christmas by the time we got here, so half the year was gone, so they kept me another year in grade one. I was now two years behind in school all along. It was difficult, but being the oldest, I guess… My sister had it a little bit easier because she was only two years old. I had to learn because my parents didn’t speak, so I had to learn and help them a lot.
K.M: Did you have any obstacles when you were travelling here?
C.S: Personally, I came by boat. I landed in Nova Scotia. It took us a whole week to get there. It was a big boat, you know a ship. As soon as my mother went on the boat, she was sick, always sea sick. My sister and I were running around the boat on our own! (Laughing) a seven and a two-year-old! Thank goodness we had a friend that was coming with us, travelling with us to Canada too from the same town and she kind of kept an eye on us. I only remember one thing. I remember choking on a bone, you know for the fish? That’s all I remember about that trip. I nearly died! So, that’s it. My mother didn’t enjoy it, because she was in bed the whole time.
K.M: So, from Halifax, did you take a train over?
C.S: We took a train, yes. we took a train all the way up here. I think it took us three days and two nights. From there to up north there, yeah it was a long time.
K.M: Tony, you said you came when you were older right?
T.S: Yeah, I was 18. Sono venuto qui in Canada quando avevo dicotto anni. Sono arrivato in pieno inverno, facevo freddo enorme. Io non era abituato al freddo. Piaciuto moltissimo in Canada, e ancore oggi sono fiero di essere italiano e canadese. I’m very proud to be Italian and Canadian.
C.S: When he came, he came in March so a lot of snow here at the time. He wasn’t used to that!
T.S: I was worse because I come from south Italy and it’s much, much warmer there.
K.M: Did you live anywhere else before you came to Branford?
T.S: No, no I lived in Brantford all my life. And I love Brantford, I really do. We got a little community here. We come from Celle and it’s like a little community. We have a party every year, we have a Christmas party for the kids, sing to people all the time.
C.S: It’s like the village moved to Brantford.
T.S: We are more from Celle in Brantford, than people in Celle!
K.M: When you came, were your parents with you?
T.S: No. I came over here, because my brother was here in Canada. The same time, my mother, my father, and my sister, they went to Columbus, Ohio. My uncle, he sponsored them. He sponsored the whole family there, me included. So, I had my chance to go in Ohio when my mother and father went there, but that time it was the Vietnam War. So automatically, if I was going to the United States, I could be American citizen and the could have sent me to the army. So, I said to my uncle, my mother and my father, “no, I prefer to stay in Canada”. And After I met my wife, and we got married and had three children, three boys. Happy family! Let’s put it that way. And I enjoy my family every time we stay together.
K.M: So, you were older before you came. Where you working in Italy?
T.S: Yes, I was working. In Foggia. But I only worked about four years there. And after I come in Canada. I was tolonidine maker, it was a trade, I worked in a garage for that. It was difficult to come here, because of my language and because the measurements were all different. And I went to work in construction all my life, here in Canada.
K.M: Did you know any English before coming here.
T.S: No, no English at all. It was very hard for me because of my age, when I came there, I went to work and that’s it.
K.M: Did you come over by boat as well?
T.S: No, I come by plane. Roma to Toronto and somebody picked me up in Toronto, a friend of my brother and I went to Brantford.
K.M: So, when did you two actually meet?
C.S: When he came to Canada yeah. Well see his brother married my aunt. That’s how we got to know him. When he came to Canada, his brother and my aunt used to live upstairs from us. We had a duplex when we bought our house, and we used to live downstairs and they lived upstairs. But we must have known each other in Italy because I was seven and he’s three years older than me, so neither one of us knew.
T.S: It was a tough life, no language, you go look for job and the first thing they ask, “you speak English?”. “No, I don’t speak English.” “you know the measurements?” “No, I know the Italian measurements, not the English measurements.” Now it would be nice to come, because they changed it. But it was tough live before. Hard to find work when we came over, its not like now because there is a lot of work here and there. I put a lot of applications to factories, but no luck. So, I had to work in construction, which I had never done in Italy.
K.M: Coming to Canada, it’s a new country, new people. Was there anyway you kept your Italian culture alive in your daily lives?
T.S: Yes, especially me, pure Italian. I love Italy, I love the Italian language, I love Italian food. We keep all the traditions. We keep all the traditions of the food we used to make in Italy. We still make wine, we make sauce, so we keep all the Italian traditions from the little village we come from.
C.S: We still make our own sausage, and you know that type of stuff because we used to do that there, well our parents did. And I learned through my parents. And then I married a pure Italian. Probably if I hadn’t married him, I wouldn’t be doing all these traditions. No, I don’t think so. And he’s so old fashion that he likes to keep the traditions, we kept them up. Probably if I had married a Canadian, I would not have kept them.
C.S: the Italians that came here in Canada, they kept their traditions. They stayed old fashioned, but they don’t do those things anymore. If you go to Celle, they don’t do those things. Nobody makes sausage, nobody slaughters a pig or kills a lamb, nothing! They don’t make their own sauce, they don’t do anything.
T.S: Even the language. We speak our dialect here. Now you go in Celle, they don’t speak our dialect like we used to speak there. They’ve changed all the things.
C.S: They changed. We came to a new country, you’d think that we would change, but we didn’t. It didn’t happen that way. We stayed, kept all our traditions and still think the old way, whereas in Italy they all changed. There’s no tradition with them anymore.
Steve Squeo: Where did the dialect come from?
T.S: From France. They call it, in Italian they call it Francoprovinzale. But back to tradition, we still make cookies, we still do all those things here. Like in Italy, they don’t do them no more, the young generation, but we still do it here.
C.S: Even our age, they don’t do it anymore. They buy everything.
K.M: Have you been back to visit your town in Italy?
C.S: We’ve been about four times?
T.S: Yeah about three or four.
K.M: How was it to go back?
T.S: Beautiful! I love it.
C.S: He has all his friends there. I don’t see him when we go over there! (laughing) He takes off with his friends.
A.S: While we sit and cook all day.
C.S: Another tradition we brought over here! (laughing) We went back on our honeymoon, that’s the first time we went back. And I didn’t know those people, I didn’t remember any of them, and we were only there two weeks in Celle. When we left, I started to cry, I couldn’t stop.
T.S: And the first time we went there for our honey moon, we travelled all by train. We travelled all up and down Italy all by train. We had a special ticket so we could go everywhere. It was cheaper and faster, and we could stop wherever we want.
C.S: I don’t know if they do that now, that was in 1972. We went back for my cousins wedding also, and they do weddings a little different than ours. We got used to how they do weddings here. So, when we went there for the wedding it was kind of funny. No bridesmaids, you know they just had a best man, well not even a best man, it was her sister standing up for her. This is it, he was just in an ordinary suit and they got married just the two and then we went to eat and that was it. Six o’clock and we were home! What kind of wedding is this? That’s how they do their weddings there.
T.S: An Italian wedding in Brantford, you come home around two o’clock in the morning!
C.S: Well they used to do that in Italy. They used to have dances and everything. You know when my mother got married, but now it’s all changed. It’s not the way it used to be. We were so far away from home, you kept the traditions. It’s like bringing home here.
Celle di San Vito e il francoprovenzale
Celle di San Vito
Questa città si trova nelle Monti della Daunia, nella provincia di Foggia, in Puglia. È il commune più piccolo della Puglia, con solo 156 abitanti. Prima degli anni ’50, c’era una popolazione molto più grande, ma in quel periodo molte persone hanno iniziato a lasciare la regione, emigrando in paesi come il Canada. Adesso, in particolare, c’è una grande comunità di persone di quella regione che vive nella città di Brantford, Canada.
È evidante che hanno mantenuto il loro senso di comunità, perché ogni anno si riuniscono per fare una festa di Natale e un picnic in estate. Come ho scoperto nell’intervista che ho fatto, molti italiani qui si concentrano sul mantenimento del loro patrimonio e delle loro tradizioni.
Il dialetto franco-provenzale
Il dialetto franco-provinzale è molto interessante. Celle di San Vito, cosi come la città di Faeto, che si trova nelle vicinanze, sono gli unici posti in Italia a parlare la lingua. Proveniva da una regione vicina a Lione, in Francia, il dialetto è esistito in quella regione d’Italia per circa 700 anni. È interessante perché è quasi completamente scomparso nella sua regione originale della Fancia. Questo rende ancora più importante documentare la sua presenza in Italia e in altri luoghi del mondo, come il Canada. La lingua è attualmente in pericolo, con solo circa un migliaio di persone che la parlano.
L’area in cui la lingua è più presente fuori dall’Italia è infatti l’area intorno a Toronto, qui in Canada. Perché la maggior parte dell’emigrazione da Celle si San Vito e Faeto avvenne tra il 1950-1975, ci sono ancora due generazioni in Canada che parlano il dialetto. Però, è stato trovato nella ricerca che non è stato tramesso all terza o quarta generazione delle loro famiglie.
Nagy, Naomi. “Lexical Change and Language Contact: Faetar in Italy and Canada.” Journal of Sociolinguistics 15.3 (2011): 366-82. Web. 2 Mar. 2019