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Internees at a Kanaskas camp: Antonio Rebaudengo is located in the front row, second from left.  Photo courtesy of Glenbow Archives.  NA-5124-22On June 10, 1940, Italy declared war on Canada. This was an event that would have a tremendous impact on the lives of many Italian-Canadian citizens.  Almost immediately hundreds of Italian Canadians were ordered to be interned -- identified by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as enemy aliens.  The government also called for the registration of all persons of Italian birth and authorized the confiscation of the properties of so-called enemy aliens. Although the majority of those interned were from the areas of highest concentrations of Italian-Canadians ( Montreal, Toronto and other centres in Ontario), there were also documented cases from western Canada. 

In Western cities, such as Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver, Italian-Canadians may not have experienced the same degree of hostility as their counterparts in Toronto and Montreal, but they were subjected to the close scrutiny of the RCMP to whom they had to report on a monthly basis.  Relief payments were suspended and, in some cases, travel restrictions were imposed.  Activities such as the teaching of the Italian language, and meetings of Italian Societies were declared illegal.  

In Alberta, Fascism was felt at the local level through the honorary consuls in Edmonton and Calgary (Antonio Rebaudengo in Calgary and Pietro Colbertaldo in Edmonton), and Father Carlo Fabris, the priest of the only Italian parish in Alberta in Venice. The Hylo Venice: Harvest of Memories history book mentions that, in November 1925, officials from the Fascist headquarters in Calgary came to Venice and the party flag was blessed and all of the Italians became members.

Details about the impact of internment on Venice is provided by Tony Bonifacio in his unpublished history of the settlement and by Gisella Biollo in the Hylo-Venice history book.  Mr. Bonifacio writes:

With Italy becoming allied with Germany the ghost of the Fascist in Venice is resurrected, and opens up a can of worms. Someone reported to the R.C.M.P. in Lac La Biche that the party had existed in Venice, and that led to an investigation by the police. Although the party had ceased to exist for many years, the police located records that Mr. Coli in Hylo still had and some of the names led to the arrest of O.J. Biollo first. He was taken to Calgary and sent to a concentration camp in Kananaskis. A short time later Rudolph Michetti, Augusto Marini, Efisio Manca, and Joe Michetti were arrested and taken to Edmonton, and after a hearing the three were sent home only Rudolph was sent to Kananaskis to keep O.J. Biollo company. A short time later they were transferred to a camp in Petawawa Ontario. At this camp they were among German and Italian prisoners of war. Mr. Biollo suffered from severe bronchitis all his life so he was assigned to light duty in the compound, but Rudolph along with other prisoners were taken daily with trucks escorted by armed guards to the forest to cut down tress that were to be used as mine props.1

Gisella Biollo in her profile of Guiseppe and Filomena Michetti, Rudolph Michetti's parents,  writes:

November 25, 1925-Pietro Colbertaldo [from Edmonton], Antonio Rebaudengo and Gafolla from the Fascist headquarters in Calgary, came to Venice and the fascio de Venice was officially organized.  It was like a club where the members met once in a while as a get-together with never any harm done.  Although the organization was allowed in peace time, during the war it was considered a threat to the Allies.

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