Vice-President of the Italian Cultural Centre lays out his vision for the Italian Community.

Marco Polo: Who is Randy Rinaldo, and where did you grow up? City, area. A little background on your immediate family, wife, kids, siblings, mother, father, etc.

Randy Rinaldo: I am a North Burnaby businessman that is employed in the Real Estate sector, born to Italian immigrants who taught me the value of a dollar and the importance of giving back to the community. My mother, Lucia (née Catania), is from Vibo-Valentia, Calabria and my father Bortolo is from Treviso, Veneto, respectively. 

One of the benefits of being both northern and southern Italian is that I can embrace the different cultures and dialects of the Italian peninsula. I was blessed to marry the woman of my dreams, a beautiful Italian powerhouse that is half Abbruzzese and half Trevisana by the name of Stefania (née) Baldo. Together we have two very happy, energetic boys: Romano (5) and Gianluca (2).

Marco Polo: Being of Italian descent, what does that mean to you?

Randy Rinaldo: Being Italian means everything to me. I believe that we should celebrate our culture and what it has and continues to contribute to the world. Family and community are essential to Italians, and I want to ensure that my children are aware of their cultural heritage. I am fortunate to have a life partner who shares my aspiration of teaching that culture to our children.

Marco Polo: Randy, tell me how you got involved with the Italian Cultural Centre and some of your accomplishments since joining the board?

Randy Rinaldo: I was “born” into the ICC. My parents, who are both active members with the ICC and their cultural organizations, taught me at a young age that giving back to the community was an essential part of being Italian and Canadian. I am setting the same example for my children. In 2016 I joined the ICC board; it’s an honour to serve as a board member and Vice-President for the organization that shaped my youth. I spearheaded the campaign, with the support of Councillor Melissa De Genova, to designate “Little Italy” in Vancouver. This later went on to include Italian Heritage Month and Italian Day as an Official Observance and Celebration of the City of Vancouver. This is a tremendous accomplishment as it properly recognizes the Italian community and will continue the celebration for Italians in the future. In 2018, I successfully negotiated $160,000 in funding from Fortis BC to support Italian art instalments for Little Italy. This will include Italian flag crosswalks, which made for an exciting announcement at our successful ICC Fundraising Gala in September. This year is looking just as productive as I fulfil my role as Governance chair of the ICC. We will be bringing forward new modernized bylaws that will go to a vote at the next AGM. You never know what surprises we may have in store for the ICC and the Italian Community at large, but rest assured I’m always thinking of something.

Marco Polo: What do you see for the future of the ICC?

Randy Rinaldo: The current ICC has served my family and our community exceptionally well over the years. It has laid the foundation for an everlasting legacy so we can share our amazing culture with the rest of Vancouver. However, our current facilities are not sufficient to satisfy today’s young people’s growing appetite for Italian Culture. We are blessed with a culture that is in high demand, as it seems that everyone wants the “Italian experience”. We need to recognize the past generation for the exceptional contribution that they have made to the city and country. We also have an obligation to share and educate the new generation to the Italian experience they crave. The Italian Centre can be just that, a busy Italian Centre rather than a simple banquet hall. A location where you can sit in a piazza while enjoying your Pizza, pasta followed up by an Authentic gelato while strolling through a gallery celebrating Italian art and culture. That is what I see for the future of the ICC, a place where people can be immersed in La Dolce Vita – We can create a space that will draw young families to come and gather with their children for food, fun and have a learning experience about Authentic Italian Culture all at the same time.

Marco Polo: As the Italian / Canadian community ages, can you see more young professionals such as yourself getting involved at the Centre? How can you assist in making that happen?

Randy Rinaldo: This is an ongoing challenge we face at the ICC. As young professionals are busy starting their careers, it’s hard to pull them away from their work and growing families to come and volunteer no matter how much they’d like to. Although when we are fortunate enough to get a young professional to put in their time, we need to do what we can to keep them by appreciating all that they are doing because sometimes volunteering can be a thankless job. I believe that there are great people out there of Italian heritage that feel the same calling that I do. We encourage everyone, to at a minimum, become a member of the ICC, and at the ICC, we will work to create value for those who become members of the ICC.

Marco Polo: Why Real Estate as your career choice! Tell our readers what do you enjoy about it?

Randy Rinaldo: Growing up, I noticed at a young age that many successful people in our community were in some way part of the real estate industry. It became a passion of mine right after I graduated high school, and I haven’t left the sector since. I think what sets me apart from the many other REALTORS® out there is my extensive knowledge and understanding of how policies that are introduced by various levels of government can affect the Real Estate market. This last year, in particular, was a turbulent one, something that I forecasted when the current government was formed after the 2017 provincial election. Today, I take great pride in the services I’ve provided over the years for my clients. I love negotiating a good deal and always enjoy setting new benchmarks in various neighbourhoods and condominiums.

Marco Polo: What about you, would you share some of your future goals with us? Would you consider going into politics in the near future?

Randy Rinaldo: People always ask me why I care about politics, and I always ask them why they care so much about athletes putting a ball or puck in a net. Politics is life and death; it has a tangible effect on our lives and as someone who always looks at the world around me and says “that can be done better,” I figure there’s no sense to complain about it; I should do something about it instead. You’ll rarely hear me say “that can’t be done”. My style of politics is finding a way to get to “yes,” and to look for solutions to problems. I’m proud of my track record lobbying for various issues that I am passionate about. Such as advocating for drivers by working with the government to correct BC’s woefully low highway speed limits, allowing single-occupant electric vehicles in the HOV lane, or fighting for fiscally prudent, economically liberal, and socially progressive governance and of course our Italian community. Governance-Politics and understanding the folks who are running our society is fundamental to making our world a better place. Would I formally throw my hat in the ring as a candidate for office in the future? I have nothing but respect for those who put their names forward. Still, I love my job so much, and I feel my position as a riding President and the various boards I sit on satisfying my appetite to serve, without having to deal with the vitriol an elected official will face.

Marco Polo: What message do you personally want to send to the Italian Canadian Community and our Marco Polo readers?

Randy Rinaldo: We are at a unique crossroads here in Canada. How will we preserve our culture for the generations to come, the ones that will find themselves separated from that first-hand cultural experience of the immigrant generation? As Canadians, we value and celebrate our unique Italian heritage. We have to honour those who have maintained that Italian heritage throughout our local history and educate the world about what it means to be Italian. The melting pot approach in the US has separated Italians from their culture. Canada’s cultural mosaic makes us strong Canadians while recognizing that our heritage has made Canada better. Being Italian is living our culture. Our history and contributions to the world date back thousands of years and continue today. It has lasted this long, and now, more than ever, we need the Italian Culture Centre to reflect what it is to be Italian. It has to feel Italian and not just because there are Italians who attend the facility. The best way to honour those who built the current Italian Centre is to create an Italian experience with a facility that will continue to exemplify what it is to be Italian. I believe that it is now our obligation to celebrate and preserve our culture, our people’s history and their contribution so that it may be shared with future generations, both Italian and non-Italians.

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