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

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

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

The southern mountain caribou, an iconic species for the Splatsin First Nation, is threatened with extinction, much to the dismay of the First Nation. (Province of B.C. photo)
Splatsin First Nation concerned over dwindling caribou herd

Southern mountain caribou at risk of extinction, will struggle to recover without habitat protection and restoration action - report

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
5 more deaths, 131 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

Those 18-years and older in high-transmission neighbourhoods can register for the vaccine

Sisters Audrey Cunningham and Donna Erdman, join the Vernon Kalamalka Chorus singing in their cars, tuned into the radio, under the direction of Debbie Parmenter. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
VIDEO: Okanagan choir steers around COVID with ‘carbershop’ twist

Singers find a unique way to practice during pandemic restrictions

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

A Falkland man will present a 600+ signature petition to the Columbia Shuswap Regional District board Thursday, May 20, opposing dog control in Electoral Area D, which includes Falkland, Silver Creek, Salmon Valley and Ranchero/Deep Creek. (File photo)
600-plus sign Falkland man’s petition against dog control

Similar bylaw rejected by 200 public hearing attendees when topic came up 9 years ago

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Notes of hope, encouragement and camaraderie were left on the message board inside the kitchen of TacoTime. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Adiós, Taco Tuesday: Kelowna residents flock to TacoTime on restaurant’s final day

‘We don’t need another Starbucks. We need tacos on Tuesday, with extra hot sauce’

Most Read