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Friday, July 12, 2024

Canada lifted immigration restrictions on Italy in 1947, with over 500,000 Italians immigrating between 1947 and 1983. Even after more than half a century, that experience remains a painful scar for the entire community - even those not alive then. Wanting to erase it from their minds, many elderly Italians refuse to speak to those events; and those few who do speak say emphatically and with a trace of bitterness that they had nothing against Canada.(Angelo Principe, A Tangled Knot: Prelude to 10 June 1940, pg 42. Enemies Within, 2000)

On November 4, 1990 at a luncheon in the Toronto suburb of Concord, before about 500 NCIC (National Congress of Italians in Canada) members and guests, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney issued an apology for the wrongs done to the Canadians of Italian origin during World War II. Prime Minister Mulroney said that “the forty five years of silence on internment, represented a shameful part of our history…Sending civilians to internment camps without trial simply because of their ethnic origin was not then, and is not now, and never will be, accepted in a civilized nation that purports to respect the rule of law.” Yet, no formal apology has come from the Government of Canada, or any compensation.

The National Congress of Italian Canadians (NCIC) asserted that “as Canada moves into the twenty first century, the time has come to make amends to the injured so that we may learn from our past and move confidently forward as a nation.” Angelo Persichilli, editor of Il Corriere Canadese wrote in one of his editorials that “forgive we can try, to forget is more difficult.” ( Franca Iacovetta and Robert Ventresca, Redress, Collective memory, and the Politics of History,pg.396. Enemies Within, 2000)
The history of Italian Canadians in the Second World War was far more complicated, sordid, and turbulent than the community version…Italian Canadians, rather than being fed a streamlined version of the past meant to serve contemporary political ends, deserve full disclosure of all the evidence and interpretations so far available. They can then decide for themselves, through informed reflection and debate, how best to understand the dramatic events of these years. ( Franca Iacovetta and Robert Ventresca, Redress, Collective memory, and the Politics of History, pg.405. Enemies Within, 2000)
Whether they were Canadians or Italian citizens, those arrested and interned were classified as second-class prisoners of war. (The internment of Italian Canadians, Luigi Bruti Liberati, pg.83. Enemies Within, Toronto, 2000)
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The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.


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