Vancouver city council and Mayor Kennedy Stewart will apologize Wednesday (June 8) for its treatment of the Italian Canadian community during the Second World War.
The apology, to be livestreamed at the start of the council meeting, at 9:30 a.m., came from an April 26 draft apology contained in a staff report to council. It will be read almost 82 years to the day since Canada declared war on Italy, on June 19, 1940.
After the declaration of war, from 1940 to 1943, Canada arrested, detained, and interned between 600 and 700 Italian Canadian men who had been identified as having "fascist ties" and being "enemy aliens". Tens of thousands of other Italian Canadian men over the age of 16 received the status of "enemy aliens" and were ordered to register with the RCMP and report to them once per month.
Internment camps were located in Alberta, Ontario, and New Brunswick.
In Vancouver, according to the April staff report, 1,800 men had to report to the RCMP and about three dozen more were arrested and detained without charge. Of those, 29 were sent to the Kananaskis POW Internment Camp in Alberta or a camp in Petawawa, Ontario.
"Many families of the internees were not notified as to the disposition of their loved ones or given definitive reasons as to why or when they had been taken from them," the city report said. "In this regard, no communication between those incarcerated and their families existed for approximately two weeks. Not a single Vancouver internee was ever charged with a crime against Canada. Not initially nor at any time during incarceration at Kananaskis, AB and Petawawa, ON, which averaged a total of fifteen and a half months in duration."
The month of June was chosen by the city for the apology because it is Italian Heritage Month in Vancouver.
On May 27, 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized in the House of Commons to the Italian Canadian community for the wartime internments.