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Fascism

The word Fascism has a dual origin. It comes in part from the word fasces, a bundle of rods round an axe carried by the magistrates in ancient Rome as a symbol of power and authority. It comes also from the Italian word, fascio, meaning band or group.

The basic idea behind Fascism, as elaborated by Mussolini, was that the State was absolute before which individuals and groups were all relative. Mussolini proclaimed, "Everything within the state, nothing against the state, nothing outside the state." The masses should only "believe, obey and fight."

For a history of Fascism in Italy, there are many excellent historical accounts. What is important in this period, with respect to Alberta's Italian community, is the impact of the rise of Fascism and how it played out as Italy declared war on Canada (June 10, 1940) and Italians, even some born in the country, became enemy aliens. The issue had arisen briefly in the First World War but Italy had sided with the Allies (the “good guys”) and that ended the discussion. However, it was demonstrated how the Canadian government would react to "enemy aliens" or suspected enemy aliens on our soil—Ukrainians were interned.

As has been noted by many historians, immigrants, whenever possible, retained very close ties with the homeland. Italians in Canada, even those who were second and third generation were aware of the rise to power of Mussolini. The influence of the Fascist government was felt through the consular agents, vice consuls or honorary consuls who were assigned to Italian communities. It was felt, as well, through the priests who were sent by their order from Italy to serve immigrants.