Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Italian-Canadians to get formal apology for treatment during Second World War

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will issue a formal apology next month, acknowledging internment camps

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will issue a formal apology next month for the treatment of Italian-Canadians during the Second World War.

The government said in a news release that 600 Italian-Canadian men were interned in camps in Canada after Italy allied with Germany and joined the war in 1940.

Some 31,000 other Italian-Canadians were declared enemy aliens.

Trudeau told the House of Commons Wednesday that his government “will right these wrongs” by issuing a formal apology in May.

In 1988, Canada formally apologized and offered $300 million in compensation to Japanese-Canadians, 22,000 of whom were interned in camps during the Second World War.

Trudeau did not say whether there will be compensation for Italian-Canadians.

He announced plans for the apology in response to a question Wednesday from Liberal MP Angelo Iacono.

“During the Second World War, hundreds of Italian-Canadians were interned for the simple reason that they were of Italian heritage,” Iacono told the Commons.

“Parents were taken away from their homes, leaving children without their fathers in many cases and families without a paycheque to put food on their tables. Lives and careers, businesses and reputations were interrupted and ruined, and yet no one was held responsible.

“Italian Canadians have lived with these memories for many years and they deserve closure.”

Trudeau replied that Canadians of Italian heritage “deal with ongoing discrimination related to mistakes made by our governments of the past that continue to affect them to this day.”

“I’m proud to stand up and say that our government will right these wrongs with a formal apology in the month of May.”

The government’s news release said that in 1939, the Defence of Canada Regulations gave the justice minister the right to intern, seize property and limit activities of Canadian residents born in countries that were at war with Canada.

The regulations clearly targeted Canadians’ fear of “the foreign element,” and not a single person was ever charged with any crime, the release said.

In 2018, the RCMP issued a statement of regret for their involvement in the internment.

The government’s formal apology will pay tribute to and honour the families of each of the 600 interned as an act of respect and an acknowledgment that an injustice happened, the release said.

Canada is home to over 1.6 million Canadians of Italian origin, one of the largest Italian diasporas in the world, and they have made immeasurable contributions to the social, cultural and economic fabric of the country, the release added.

A joint statement from 10 Italian-Canadian members of Parliament, including Justice Minister David Lametti and Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino, said many residents suffered irrevocable harm.

“They may have been Italian by heritage, but they were Canadians first. We as Italian Members of Parliament thank those members before us who brought attention to this injustice and helped bring this apology to fruition for these families in our Italian-Canadian communities.”

World War II

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Sprig of Heather restaurant at R.J. Haney Heritage Village and Museum features a 40-by-40 foot covered pavilion in the heart of the public garden. (Photo contributed)
Salmon Arm’s RJ Haney Heritage Village preps for opening of new attractions

No date set yet, new highlights will be Sprig of Heather restaurant, Children’s Discovery Centre

A topographic (3D) perspective captured from Google Earth, to create a perspective of the approximate proposed cut block outlines on Mount Ida in relation familiar local landmarks. (Alex Inselberg image)
Salmon Arm council’s concerns eased over Mount Ida logging

Fire chief explains proposed cut complements wildfire risk reduction efforts

(Pixabay photo)
Morning Start: Dogs can understand some English

Your morning start for Wednesday, May 12, 2021

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

Followers of CBC reporter Justin McElroy’s twitter feed responded to his criticism of Salmon Arm’s new municipal flag by offering alternative design options. (Justin McElroy/Twitter)
Salmon Arm flag design flounders on internet

‘Business card’ design prompts creative alternatives

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Vancouver court on Tuesday, March 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Defence lawyers call foul as Crown counsel granted access to COVID-19 vaccines

Defence attorneys are pushing the province to extend inoculation access to workers in courtrooms across B.C.

A 30-year-old Kelowna woman is facing potential charges after allegedly driving impaired before crashing into a Mugford Road residence and fleeing the scene on May 11. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Alleged impaired driver crashes into Kelowna home before fleeing on foot

The crash caused damages to the yard, the surrounding chain fence and the residence’s deck

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. Indigenous leaders are calling for an investigation into the conduct of Mounties on Vancouver Island after two police shootings of members of a small First Nations community in three months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Indigenous leaders call for clarity, investigation into RCMP after B.C. shooting

The RCMP declined to comment on the requests by Indigenous leaders

A property crime map for the month of March shows the hot spot for crimes is centered around the area where the Victory Church homeless shelter is located. (City Submitted)
B.C. Premier asked to intervene in Penticton homeless shelter dispute

Mayor sends letter urging premier to reconsider Eby’s use of paramountcy powers

Colleen Price, Vancouver Island University’s bachelor of science in nursing program chairperson, says she is impressed with how students have persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Next generation of B.C. nurses already showing resilience

University program head says learning had to be adjusted amidst pandemic

The Vernon Community Arts Centre is seeking member artist submissions for a summer exhibit called Enchanted: A World of Fantasy. Submissions are open until June 30, 2021. (VCAC photo)
Vernon artists’ fantasy worlds wanted for summer exhibit

Vernon Community Arts Centre is seeking submissions for Enchanted: A World of Fantasy

A woman is hoping that her dog Ginger ran away from the fire that erupted in her Osoyoos home Saturday night. The home caught fire twice in two days and is totally destroyed. (Contributed)
Dog missing after saving woman from huge house fire in Osoyoos

The woman escaped the burning home, but she hopes her dog Ginger ran away to safety

Most Read