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The Italian Community

Italy’s decision to side with Germany and Japan brought immediate suspicion upon all Canadians of Italian descent. As a group, Italians were looked upon with suspicion. Hundreds more were interned in prison or work camps and thousands more were designated "enemy aliens"; the latter were required to report monthly to the Mounted Police. There are numerous documented cases of Italians from Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge, and other Alberta communities who were subjected to investigation by the RCMP.

The operation of many Italian cultural organizations and societies across the country came under close scrutiny; some were closed down altogether. Activities such as the teaching of the Italian language and meetings of Italian cultural societies were declared illegal. Relief payments were suspended and, in some cases, travel restrictions were imposed. Italian workers were asked not to comment on any events pertaining to the war. Any derogatory remarks about Canada's war efforts would result in immediate termination.

Individuals who openly supported Benito Mussolini or Fascist organizations were sent to internment camps. Antonio Rebaudengo, who organized several Fascist societies in Alberta was interned at Kananaskis from 1940 until 1943. Enrico Butti was investigated by the authorities because he was president of an Italian cultural society in Edmonton. He had assumed that, because he was under 21 when his father had become a Canadian citizen in the early 1920s, he was also a citizen. The RCMP advised him that this was not so and he was told that he could not leave the city. Butti remained in Edmonton during and after the war and organized various cultural organizations within the city.


Davies, Adriana Albi. “Alberta's Italian Community: World War II and After” in Celebrating Alberta's Italian Community. (accessed October 2007).

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