The shadow of Fascism also fell on
other Italian Canadians in Alberta. Antonella Fanella
mentions that, in Calgary, Tony Valerio's application to
become a pilot an navigator in the Royal Canadian Air Force
was rejected because of his status as the son of an
immigrant. She quotes Audrey Forzani (nee De Negri), Hudson's
Bay Company employee as follows:
War breaks out, Jean Santopinto, Mary Bussi, Dora
Buccini and me were pulled into the office of Mr. Trimble,
he was the superintendent of The Bay. No he says, 'War's
been declared and Mussolini's gone with Hitler.' We were all
wondering what he's talking about because we were all born
in Calgary, and he says, 'You know, girls, if you keep your
mouths shut and don't give your opinion about anything, we
will keep you on. But the minute you cause a little bit of
trouble, or if there's a ripple around that you say
something derogatory against the war, we will have to let
you go.' [We wondered] What's he talking about? For Pete's
sake! We were warned not to say anything or give our
opinion. I don't remember having an opinion. War was over
there, we felt sorry for the people, but we never discussed
She notes that Antonio Rebaudengo was interned and spent
three years in Kananaskis, Camp Petawawa and Gagetown Camps,
only being released in 1943. His son, Mario, served in the
Canadian army and she quotes him as follows: "We were
called 'dago,' 'Mussolini," 'Fascist.' We tried to
ignore it. We were the minority. We were the aliens. War was
not on our side."
Toni Ross writes in Oh! The Coal Branch that the
mines were militant about enforcing enemy alien provisions.
A meeting of residents in this district met at Sterco
on Sunday afternoon, June 2nd, 1940 when 55 British subjects
were in attendance to discuss the employment of enemy aliens
to fill the positions left open by men joining the C.A.S.F.,
and it was moved that a petition be sent to the management
1. No enemy aliens or any naturalized since 1939 be
employed for the duration of the war;
2. Preference be given to British subjects as
3. Positions vacated by men enlisting in the C.A.S.F.
be filled by British subjects.
The motion was carried unanimously."
Methods of combating fifth column activities were
discussed and it was decided to report all anti-allied
As with other communities in Alberta with a significant
population of Italian immigrants (Venice, Edmonton, Calgary,
Lethbridge and Drumheller), this divided the community into
"them" and "us" and reinforced the
position of power of immigrants from Great Britain. For many
Italians who had emigrated near the turn of the century, that
their loyalty should be questioned was hurtful and that their
livelihood should be at stake was patently unfair. Ross goes
on to note that local places of business were not as militant
and, of course, Italians owned key businesses, for example D.
Giovinazzo owned The Palm Café and Confectionery as well as
the Luscar Meat Market. Many young men of Italian descent did
enlist and served in the war effort as is recognized, for
example, in the Honour Roll of enlisted men in the Canmore
oral history in the Rockies, Nordegg and Coal Branch Region.