The Italian Day Festival Society has been bringing Vancouver’s community together under the umbrella of Italian culture, heritage and community since 2010, when Italian Day returned to Commercial Drive after close to a 30 year hiatus. Besides evolving into one of the city’s largest cultural street festivals and signature events, drawing over 300,000 attendees – in 2016, it helped achieve the ‘Little Italy’ designation on The Drive, as well as the landmark Little Italy crosswalks in 2019, marking the 8 block heritage district. June 14, 2020 would have been Italian Day on The Drive’s 10 year Anniversary.

In March 2020, upon the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 pandemic declaration, everything came to a halt, including the planning of Italian Day 2020, which was officially cancelled in late April 2020. Anticipating that the Italian Day street festival would likely not go ahead in its usual format, the Italian Day Festival Society began a series of discussions in early April with our partners and the City, presenting an alternate creative and initiative – Italian Day on The Drive for Courage – very much inspired by:

  • Italy’s message of hope and courage, delivered in uplifting song and music coming from balconies and rooftops, as its people quarantined amidst a COVID-19 crisis
  • the impact of how ‘together we can make a difference’, and the desire to encourage a domino effect of creative, social and economic activity, as well as hope and healing within our community
  • awareness of mental health needs for individuals and organizations whose services and funding have been impacted by COVID-19; and to build it into the courage message by supporting Coast Mental Health and their respective fundraising campaign – Spread Courage, Not Fear

Italian Day on The Drive for Courage

June is Italian Heritage Month and to commemorate this and the absence of the annual Italian Day festival on Commercial Drive – together with our partners, we launch Italian Day on The Drive for Courage, an initiative which embraces all those who come on board, while creating a trickle effect of activity – creatively, economically and socially. Our goal too is to highlight stories of courage throughout the initiative duration via social media and our website. In addition, we seek to encourage and drive donations to Coast Mental Health’s fundraising initiative Spread Courage, Not Fear to ensure that programs and services remain available for those battling mental illness, now more than ever.

The campaign will also program many talented local music artists, Italian-Canadian and other, reaching out with uplifting live music from moving vehicle platform(s) and rooftop patios. Very much inspired by Italy’s landscape of music and song coming from balconies and rooftops, as well as our 7pm tribute to frontline workers – the goal is to bring hope, celebration and community together in chorus, while maintaining public health safety and social gathering guidelines.

Italian Day on The Drive for Courage will launch on Friday June 26th at City Hall with a virtual celebration honouring Italian Heritage Month, and will include the first music performance of Italian Day on The Drive for Courage summer concert series, which will be live streamed. The initiative and pop-up performances will run throughout July and August. Date(s), time and location(s) will not be announced in advance in order to avoid crowd gatherings. All concerts will be filmed and released post event via social media and website. Some performances may be live-streamed, and if so – date and time will be released in advance, but no location. All music performances details and live steam links will be available here.

Coast Mental Health

Spread Courage, Not Fear Campaign

Coast Mental Health’s Courage To Come Back Awards, an annual celebration of courage, compassion and positivity, raising critical funds for those experiencing mental illness, was cancelled due to COVID-19. This has left a huge funding gap, placing many of the programs and services offered now and in future at risk. Spreading the message of courage and hope is needed, while also driving gifts and donations so that Coast Mental Health can continue to offer much-needed services to some of BC’s most vulnerable.

Coast Mental Health has launched a Spread Courage, Not Fear campaign, encouraging everyone to #SpreadCourageNotFear by sharing notes of courage, and donating to support those battling mental illness. The campaign includes a weekly celebration of Coast’s own frontline workers and the incredible courage they have demonstrated. The social media element of the campaign includes a challenge to: share 5 words of courage, donate $5, nominate $5.

#SpreadCourage  #AndraTuttoBene

Stay tuned for more details to be released!