In 1951, Angelo Di Turi immigrated to Canada from Italy with only $15 in his pocket. He worked night and day to support his wife, Lucia, and children, Angela and Anna, back home in Italy until they could join him in 1955. Two years later, their son Vito was born in Canada.
While reflecting on why higher education was so important to his parents, Vito Di Turi shared that “as post-war immigrants, they sacrificed everything for their children to achieve what was not available to them because of war, economics, and family obligations. They recognized that a better lifestyle was available with higher education. They realized that higher education was an opportunity for socio-economic freedom and a means for us to integrate into their adopted country.”
Angelo and Lucia were both highly skilled and insightful in ways that could only come from life experience. Although their opportunity for formal education was limited, they saw opportunities in Canada for their children. The couple were proponents of higher education and they encouraged their children to pursue postsecondary studies.
“They came to Canada for a better life, specifically, a better life for us and postsecondary studies was a way to achieve this. They wanted to ensure that all opportunities were available to us and provide us with the freedom to choose any profession and not be limited by the absence of post-secondary education.”
Their sacrifices, hard work, and commitment to higher education set the foundation for their children to prosper and integrate into Canadian society while still maintaining a passion for their Italian heritage. While attending university, Vito Di Turi reflected upon his Italian-Canadian identity and began to realize that he was different from his fellow students. However, he also felt privileged to be exposed to multiple cultures.
“I started to embrace my heritage only when I accepted my multiculturalism...Strong family values and traditions formed the cornerstone of that heritage. We were able to achieve a cultural balance by selectively choosing the best from each of the cultural exposures and evolving into a proud generation of Italian-Canadians,” explains Vito Di Turi.
The Angelo and Lucia Di Turi Scholarship was established in 2020 by Vito and his wife, Filomena, with assistance from Angela and Anna.
The purpose of the fund is to financially support a first-generation Canadian or a first-generation student newly admitted to the Faculty of Health Sciences or the Faculty of Science.