Cornwall Ontario – Several Italian groups are upset at Rick Shaver of the Cornwall Seaway News (owned by TC Media), Bill Makinson of Cogeco Cable, and Lori Greer – Executive Director of the United Way of SD&G, for their Italian Night fundraiser which uses blatantly negative stereotypes of Italians being in the Mafia or gangsters. (also pictured is long time event sponsor Roy Perkins of Perkins Rona Hardware in Cornwall)
A story with the offending image was published in the Cornwall Seaway News. LINK
It’s akin to celebrating Quebec Cuisine and having people dressed in Frog costumes as Frederic Serre(whose mother was Italian) wrote in.
“It is hard to fathom how, in 2018, in this age of social awareness, such a respected organization like the United Way could stoop so low as to dip into a tiresome, negative stereotype about Italians to promote their fundraiser.
What’s their theme next year? Blackface? Frog costumes? I would assume that the United Way fundraiser organizers actually sat down and brainstormed — and this is the best they could come up with?
I’m not sure what’s in Cornwall’s drinking water, but perhaps this latest silliness being exposed in the media will make organizers think twice for next year’s event. Perhaps they could start with an apology for this year.”
Frederic Serre, former Cornwall resident and Media relations officer with the Quebec RCMP Members’ Association
Emails were sent to Mr. Makinson(firstname.lastname@example.org ), Mr. Shaver (email@example.com ), Ms Greer (firstname.lastname@example.org ), and Seaway News editor Nick Seebruch who captioned the clearly offensive image with the following:
The crew is stirring up something good for this year’s Italian Night. Pictured from left-to-right are: Rocko, Don Ricardo, Billy Maraschino, Mama Grazi and Thomasi Racino (Nick Seebruch/ TC Media).
Referring to Rick Shaver, his boss, as a “Godfather”.
Kevin A. Caira, National President of the Commission for Social Justice, OSIA (Order Sons of Italy America) based in Washington DC telephoned and asked if any of those pictured were actually Italian?
On behalf of his organization he sent in the following statement for publication.
It is unfortunate that in 2018 there continues to be negative stereotyping towards groups of all ethnicities.
The Order Sons of Italy’s Commission for Social Justice fights against bias, bigotry and stereotyping of any kind, especially against Italians, Italian-Americans and Italian-Canadians.
We do not condone the type of image that the City leaders of Cornwall are portraying in their upcoming fundraiser for the United Way. We see these negative images of Italians on social media, in movies and on television much too often. Italians, Italian-Americans, and Italian-Canadians have had a positive impact in every field of our society, and it is time for the media to portray their contributions accordingly.
I encourage those involved, particularly public officials who should know better, to abandon their offensive plans and improve upon their good intentions by promoting a more appropriate fundraising activity. I trust that an honorable institution such as the United Way would not object to such a change.
The event had been run under the MS Society banner for over ten years before the United Way took it over this year.
The local United Way, has failed to reach its funding targets for several years under Ms Greer, simply has no target this year and instead is adding events like this.
We reached out to Cogeco, TC Media, and the United Way Centraide’s media relations for comment as well.
Heather Chew of the United Way/Centraide responded:
As a national office, we aren’t involved in local volunteer fundraising events. I see from the email trail below that you’ve already reached out to the local United Way.
United Way Centraide Canada
Ms Chew did not respond when we responded to her explaining that Ms Greer had turtled and not responded. Ms Greer had commented in the Seaway News story:
“We’re thrilled,” said United Way Executive Director Lori Greer. “I’ve attended many times. It’s a terrific event. We’re shifting what we’re doing to have events outside of our usual Fall push and this lines up with that.”
We’re expecting more responses as many are still on holiday breaks, and will be updating this story.
One insider says that after its few first years the group toned down the event as they clearly knew that it was over the line, yet felt that it was fine in its current incarnation.
The bigger question is will these community leaders and large corporations apologize to the Italian community and kill their event and change it to a different theme, hopefully without offending entire Nationalities or groups?
What do you think dear CFN viewers and our friends in the Italian community. You can post your comments below.