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Mary Ierullo
In Conversation





This digital collection was produced with financial assistance from Canada's Digital Collections Initiative, Industry Canada.


Home > People > Mary Ierullo > A Conversation with Marry Ierullo
A Conversation with Mrs. Mary Ierullo
By Zeljka Gaspar

Q: What important changes have taken place in the Italian-Canadian community over the past 50 years?

A very important thing was an awareness of the importance of women. Their traditional role was to stay in the house, but slowly the “little” women came out of the kitchen. They were mothers, wives, but also people able to express themselves. We became involved in politics, in our community, our voice became heard. We became more involved in the outside and the younger generation of men acknowledged that partnership.

Also, there was an opening and expanding of each section of the Italian community. They became aware of the need to be able to show their children their identity, their roots. There was an opening up of different groups wanting to show where they came from, their hometown, their pride. We were Italian, yes, but there was a distinction. Each one had to show where they came from and which characteristic made them different in that mosaic.

Q: Did you have a role model in your life?

My role model all along the way was my mother, Angela Maria Messina. She was a widow at 27 and yet she had the courage to come to this strange land and start a new life. In Italy she was – after many years of perseverance – granted permission to serve as the first woman telegraph operator in the early 1920’s. In 1927 she had a Singer sewing machine sent in from the States and she opened her embroidery workshop on George Street in Ottawa. I helped her for 18 years until her death in 1948. The most important thing that my mother taught me was to stand on my own feet, to put out the helping hand, and to always have the courage to move on.

Q: What things in your life are you proud of?

I took pride in being able to achieve what God had given me. I’m proud that I was able to take hold of my life with so many wonderful people along the way. The most important thing is that feeling of contentment. I found who I was and what I wanted out of my life, and at the same time, I saw my children do the same thing. I am very proud of each one of them because every one of my children work hard out in the field, which is the world, and in which it is not easy to live.

Q: What would you like people to remember you for?

I would like to be remembered as a child of God who worked very, very hard in order to better herself. And more than anything else to be remembered for love, peace and understanding.

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