Gillian Ferrari had been delaying a return to her father’s native land of Italy for a while now. But this eason, the time has right, and Ferrari made a first return to Italy with Canada’s National Women’s Team for the Torino Ice Tournament in November. This was her last chance to earn a spot on Team Canada for the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. Now, she’s back in Italy as she had hoped. Wearing Canada’s colours on the biggest sporting stage in the World.
Now experiencing the ultimate Canadian dream, Ferrari is from a family that has acheived its own Canadian dreams. Both of Ferrari’s parents emigrated to Canada from Europe at a young age, in search of opportunities.
Ferrari’s father, Raffaello, left Italy and his hometown of Braccia at the age of 18, looking to pursue his career in Canada. As a young and talented Italian Chef, Raffaello was hopeful that he could fulfill his dreams across the Atlantic Ocean where there would be less Italian Chefs than in Italy. In Canada, Raffaello met and married another new Canadian, Claire, who had moved to Canada from Wales.
Raffaello Ferrari took advantage of his opportunities, becoming a very reknowned and respected Chef in the Toronto area. He passed away in 1996, but his dream of his family going back to Italy is coming true. Ferrari’s mother and brother Jonathan are both heading to Turin to visit Raffaello’s native land, but also to cheer on their daughter/sister and their home country, Canada.
“My Dad loved Canada. He never regretted moving here one bit, with all the opportunities he got here. But I remember him speaking of how beautiful Italy was, that ‘when you’re older, we’re going to go as a family …I’m going to show you this and this and this’. He loved Italy and where he came from. But he really loved Canada too.”
“It’s going to be very special for me to be in Italy and to play for Canada at the same time.”
While the possibility of playing for Canada in Italy at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games was clearly a dream that Ferrari was chasing, she was always afraid of jinxing it. Scared of making too much of this dream.
“Going into it, I didn’t really want to give it too much thought, because obviously, I knew how difficult it is to make this team. I didn’t want to put any more pressure on myself, more than there already was. As soon as I found out that the Olympics were going to be in Italy, it became really important for me to go. My brother and I are of Italian heritage. It’s where my Dad is from. I went to Italy when I was two but I hadn’t been there since.”
“It was like a goal for myself. ‘I’m only going back to Italy if it’s for the Olympics. I don’t want to go any sooner.’ That gave me that extra kick in the behind to make it there.”
With a last name like Ferrari, she is sure to get some extra attention, along with teammate Meghan Agosta.
“When we were there in November, I got to here people speaking – and it made me think of my father. The same accent. They definitely noticed my name. And then I’d hear them say ‘Ferrari’ the italian way.”
“It sounds so much better,” she adds with a laugh.
“A lot of people ask me if I’m related to the Ferrari car family. But I haven’t really explored it that much. I think if I was, I wouldn’t be worrying about my finances too much.”
Who knows? With some success at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games and a little recognition as a Canadian with some Italian roots, maybe it’s the Ferrari car family that will come looking for Gillian.