Canadians of Italian origin find justice in apology for internment during WW2

spaminator

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Canadians of Italian origin find justice in apology for internment during WW2
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Maan Alhmidi
Publishing date:May 24, 2021 • 6 hours ago • 5 minute read • 10 Comments
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to deliver a formal apology in the House of Commons Thursday for the internment of Canadians of Italian background during the Second World War.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to deliver a formal apology in the House of Commons Thursday for the internment of Canadians of Italian background during the Second World War. PHOTO BY BLAIR GABLE /REUTERS
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OTTAWA — After decades of digging through archival material and talking with the relatives of people of Italian origin detained in Canada during the Second World War, Montreal historian Joyce Pillarella says Canada’s long-awaited apology gives her family and others the moral justice they have been waiting for.

Pillarella started learning more than 20 years ago about the struggles of the more than 600 people who were interned when she found a postcard sent from her grandfather who was confined at a camp near Fredericton, N.B.


She then started combing through Canada’s national archive before she started talking to the families of those affected.

“When I was starting to do cold calls to try to find families, a lot of people didn’t want to talk to me,” she said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“What I realize now is that they didn’t want to talk because they felt insignificant, their story was insignificant. They were afraid of being judged wrongly. There was the shame of the story.”

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to deliver a formal apology in the House of Commons Thursday for the internment of Canadians of Italian background during the Second World War for several years at three camps in Petawawa, Ont., Minto, N.B., and Kananaskis, Alta. The apology is not expected to come with individual compensation.

Justice Minister David Lametti, the first Canadian justice minister of Italian heritage, said the internment happened following an order-in-council that was promulgated by the then-justice minister Ernest Lapointe, and it resulted in taking hundreds of people of Italian origin from their families and declaring about 31,000 as “enemy aliens.”

“Not a single person was ever convicted, and in addition, people weren’t afforded due process,” he said in an interview.

“There wasn’t anything other than the fact that their name may have appeared on a list somewhere.”

Pillarella said the Canadian government asked the RCMP to prepare lists of Canadians of Italian heritage after Italy invaded Ethiopia in the mid-1930s.

She said Italian-Canadians had to do a lot of their business through the Italian consulates at the time.

“People had to be sympathetic with the consulate or at least appear to be, because otherwise they’re not going to get anything done,” she said.

Lametti said people were put on RCMP lists for having made donations to the Italian Red Cross or for being members of certain labour groups.

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“It is true that the Fascist Party did have organizations in Canada but, in the 1930s, they were popular,” he said. “It didn’t mean that people were disloyal to Canada. In fact, Italian-Canadians generally were very much disappointed when Italy joined Germany in that war effort.”

Joan Vistarchi, whose father Salvatore Vistarchi was interned between June 1940 and March 1943, said the RCMP arrested her father in his Montreal apartment without giving him any reason.

“He was put on a train, and he didn’t know where he was going. Nobody would say where they were going, but he ended up in the Fredericton internment camp in New Brunswick,” she said.

Vistarchi noticed as a child her father would remain very silent on June 10 every year. She asked her mother what was wrong with her dad but her mother would wave it off by saying, “I just don’t think he’s feeling well today.”

When Vistarchi became a teenager, she learned that her father’s sadness on June 10 was because he was detained on that day.

“It was kept pretty silent for a long, long time, and then, only little pieces came out,” she said. “To his dying day, (my father) wondered why was he imprisoned or put in an internment camp.”

Pillarella contacted some 150 families across Canada to collect the stories of the people who were interned during the war.

She said the suffering of the women and the children left behind could be even greater than that of the men who were detained in internment camps.

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“For the women in the 1940s, there were big families usually, I mean it was common (to have) six, seven, eight children. The breadwinner was gone,” she said. “Taking care of a household in the 1940s was a big, big job. … It’s not like today where we have appliances.”

She said families of Italian origin were stigmatized as “state enemies” and had to battle to survive as kids had to get pulled out of school, and women ended up finding domestic work on top of taking care of their big families.

“People didn’t want to hire Italians. They didn’t want to rent to Italians,” she said. “There were people that were afraid to help (Italian-Canadians) because they thought ‘Oh my god, the RCMP is watching. My husband’s gonna get interned also.”

Cinna Faveri said her father, Rev. Libero Sauro, was interned in September 1940 and was released in December of the same year. Four of his seven sons were serving in the Canadian military at the time.

Two of her brothers were airmen serving in England, and another one was a signalman fighting in Italy and Holland, she said.

She said her family, unlike most in the Italian community in Canada, was comfortable talking about what happened.

“Whenever I mentioned it to anybody, my close friends, my new friends, anybody, they’re shocked,” she said.

“They don’t know it. Nobody knows about it.”

Lametti said it’s critical to share the stories of these families through commemoration and education.

“We’re sorry,” he said, adding his message to families was “as your parents made sure that this stood as something that would make you better Canadians, we’re hoping to tell your story, so that all Canadians can be better.”

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Faveri said the apology is necessary even if it’s too late.

“It’s far too late in coming. But, because for historical reasons, it has to come, even if it’s late.”

Vistarchi said the apology is important because the names of people who were interned are going to be cleared, and the descendants will be given some kind of closure.

“However, I really feel in my heart of hearts, as much as I really am grateful for this apology, that it would have been nice if one, at least one, of these internees had been alive to hear this. They’re all dead,” she said.

“Those are the ears that should have heard this apology.”

—-

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
 

Jinentonix

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What a load of ridiculous bullshit. The people who were rounded up were KNOWN fascist operatives working for Mussolini, This resulted in something like 500 people being interned. This bit of bullshit theatre by Prince Groper doesn't really acknowledge the MANY Italian-Canadians who joined the Canadian military and fought the good fight.
Why the hell is this goof apologizing for Canada putting fascist operatives in very survivable camps like it was some crime against humanity? What next, apologize to the German-Canadians whose families may have been bombed in Germany during WW2?
 
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IdRatherBeSkiing

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What a load of ridiculous bullshit. The people who were rounded up were KNOWN fascist operatives working for Mussolini, This resulted in something like 500 people being interned. This bit of bullshit theatre by Prince Groper doesn't really acknowledge the MANY Italian-Canadians who joined the Canadian military and fought the good fight.
Why the hell is this goof apologizing for Canada putting fascist operatives in very survivable camps like it was some crime against humanity? What next, apologize to the German-Canadians whose families may have been bombed in Germany during WW2?
Don't give them any ideas.
 

spaminator

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Trudeau delivers apology to Italian Canadians for internment during Second World War
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Publishing date:May 27, 2021 • 10 minutes ago • 1 minute read • Join the conversation
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a news conference, as efforts continue to help slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada May 25, 2021.
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a news conference, as efforts continue to help slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada May 25, 2021. PHOTO BY BLAIR GABLE /REUTERS
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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has delivered a formal apology for the internment of Canadians of Italian descent during the Second World War.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Trudeau says the Italian Canadian community has carried the weight of the unjust policy of internment during the war.


Trudeau says the House of Commons didn’t have to declare war on Canadians of Italian heritage when it declared war on Italy’s fascist regime in June 1940.


He says 31,000 Italian Canadians were labelled “enemy aliens,” and then fingerprinted, scrutinized, and forced to report to local registrars once a month.

Trudeau says more than 600 men were arrested and sent to internment camps, and four women were detained and sent to jail without formal charges, ability to defend themselves in a fair trial or a chance to present or rebut evidence.

He says those who were interned did not turn their backs to Canada, and instead, they chose to contribute to building it proving they loved the country they had chosen as their home.
 

Danbones

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Trudie is pretty much a fascist himself...he is just apologizing to the original home team that got the ball rolling ...
;)
You know..."wink wink...nudge nudge, wot, eh?" the march goes on comrades. Oh, high george soros! Boy, those are nice tasting shoes you have on!
 
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spaminator

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DeMONTIS: Treatment of Canadian-Italians during war an ugly stain
Prime MInister's apology for internment little comfort for those not around anymore to hear it

Author of the article:Rita DeMontis
Publishing date:May 30, 2021 • 1 hour ago • 3 minute read • 58 Comments
TLNscreener. (004)
PHOTO BY SUPPLIED /TLN Media
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The internment of thousands of Canadians of Italian origin during World War II can only be described as an ugly stain on Canada’s history and, even though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau formally apologized in the House of Commons recently for the terrible injustices inflicted during this time, for many the apology came far too late.

Most had already passed away.

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Trudeau said the country should not have gone after Canadians of Italian heritage when it declared war on Italy’s fascist regime back in 1940: “To stand up to the Italian regime that had sided with Nazi Germany, that was right,” he said in a CP story.

“But to scapegoat law-abiding Italian-Canadians, that was wrong.”


True, the government of that time saw the internment as a way of handling those who may have been sympathetic to Mussolini.

But that number was miniscule, and the internment of the majority was not only unwarranted, but unfounded, setting into place unbelievable hardship for those affected, and a stigmatization that would last for decades.

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A new documentary titled Internment: The Untold Story produced exclusively by TLN Media Group has its world premiere this weekend in both Italian and English, and offers new insights into the harrowing treatment of Italians who were deemed alien enemies.

Aldo Di Felice, president of TLN Media Group
Aldo Di Felice, president of TLN Media Group PHOTO BY SUPPLIED /Aldo Di Felice/TLN Media Group
The documentary, says Aldo Di Felice, president of TLN Media Group, “exposes the heartbreak and humiliation associated with this little known chapter in Canadian history,” and those who were impacted: Law-abiding citizens.

Many were stripped of their citizenship — even those who were Canadian-born — and torn from loved ones.

They had their property seized and were treated like common criminals.

Many were sent to various POW camps out west, as well as in Quebec and Northern Ontario.

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Il Confino: Una Storia Mai Conclusa (Internment: The Untold Stories)

These internees were considered guilty without due process to defend themselves, adds Di Felice.

They were business owners, newspaper publishers, doctors, workers — people going about their lives.

The internees were clothed in uniforms that featured a huge red circle on their backs, to make them an easy target should they choose to escape.

But they didn’t run, although one internee had the opportunity to escape when his guard suffered a heart attack.

Instead, he stayed and helped the man.


Another prisoner originally worked making the uniforms for the Canadian soldiers, before he, too, was sent away.

One newspaper publisher had his printing press seized, along with all his assets.

And celebrated judge Frank Iacobucci, a former justice of Canada’s Supreme Court, saw his parents labeled enemy aliens under a policy he said in an earlier TLN documentary that completely jarred the values that Canada had gone to war to defend.

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Decades after the war, many Canadians of Italian heritage continued to struggle with the shame of having been declared enemies of a country they had held so dear.

I should know — even though the war ended years before I was born, I grew up with the stigma of being Italian, of a wordless shame of my own ethnicity.

I learned to deal with the bullying of some classmates, even neighbours, and a public school teacher who made her contempt for Italians well-known.

And I can never forget the day a young man on a bike purposely ran into me on a sidewalk while I walked home from school, kicking me hard and hissing out the “W” word over and over again.

I was terrified, but worse — mortified.

I was not the only one.

“People haven’t quite realized just how profound this time in Canadian history is,” said Di Felice, a lawyer by profession.

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“The reality is, when Italians were labeled enemy aliens…the stigma lasted for decades.” Redemption would eventually come, added Di Felice, but it would be a long, hard-won process, as reflected in the successes viewed in the Canadian-Italian influences that proudly permeates every facet of the country today.

Which makes the TLN documentary so crucial with its messaging.

“It was serendipitous to have this documentary available when the formal apology was offered,” said Di Felice.

“We worked on it for two years, and it’s a monumental story that we want to see shared globally, as well as in schools everywhere. The messaging is crucial, given how many years have gone by before a formal apology was finally offered by the Canadian government.”

It’s a message I do believe must be kept relevant, if only to stop it from happening again.

And hopefully, this apology starts a much-needed healing process, as well as provide some sense of closure for those impacted. Unwarranted shame is a terrible burden to carry one’s whole life.