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Other Ethnic Communities in Alberta

(This article briefly examines the impact of the Second World War on several other ethnic communities in Alberta, including the Dutch, Poles, and Romanians.)

Most Dutch-Canadians residing in Alberta during the Second World War were farmers. Roughly 1,000 people claiming Dutch heritage lived in Calgary and Edmonton at the start of the war. Although small in number, the Dutch community contributed generously to the war effort.

Most members of the Dutch community strongly supported the allied war effort. The Nazis had occupied the Netherlands in 1940 and members of the Dutch community were eager to see the Germans driven from their homeland. It was not uncommon for multiple members of families to sign on for active service overseas so they could directly contribute to the liberation of Holland. Members of the Dutch community also contributed and assisted in the raising funds, purchase of Victory Bonds and volunteering for many causes on the Homefront.

Under the leadership of fascist dictator Ion Antonescu Romania opted to side with the Axis powers in the summer of 1941. As with Alberta’s Italian population, the members of Alberta’s Romanian community immediately fell under suspicion and were labelled "enemy alien"; this despite the fact seventy percent of those claiming Romanian ancestry were born in Canada. Accordingly, the members of the community were required to report regularly to their local police headquarters and surrender their firearms. Many Romanian-Canadians joined the armed services; others farmed, operated businesses, worked in war related industries and supported Canada’s war efforts.

When Germany invaded Poland on September 1st, 1939, Polish-Canadians across Canada were shocked and angered by the events unfolding in their homeland. Polish organizations across Canada started raising money for the National Defence Fund, which aided war victims, prisoners of war, and refugees. In 1944, the Canadian Polish United Relief Fund unified all Polish organizations in a common war relief effort. The members of Alberta’s Polish community responded with tremendous generosity. Polish-Canadian men of all ages were eager to enlist to avenge the death and destruction visited upon their country and its inhabitants by the Nazis.

References

Palmer, Howard and Tamara. “The Religious Ethic and the Spirit of Immigration: The Dutch in Alberta”, in Peoples of Alberta: Portraits of Cultural Diversity, eds. Howard and Tamara Palmer. Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1985.

Palmer, Howard and Tamara. “The Romanian Community in Alberta”, in Peoples of Alberta: Portraits of Cultural Diversity, eds. Howard and Tamara Palmer. Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1985.

Matejko, Joanna. “The Polish Experience in Alberta”, in Peoples of Alberta: Portraits of Cultural Diversity, eds. Howard and Tamara Palmer. Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1985.


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