Prime Minister Justin on Thursday delivered a formal apology for the internment of Italian Canadians during Second World War.
In his speech in House of Commons earlier today, Trudeau said 31,000 Italian Canadians were labelled “enemy aliens”, and then finger-printed, scrutinized, and forced to report to local registrars once a month.
He also added that over 600 men were arrested and sent to internment camps, and four women were detained and sent to jail.
“When, on June 10th 1940, this House of Commons declared war on Mussolini’s fascist regime in Italy, Canada did not also have to declare war on Italian Canadians,” Trudeau said.
“To stand up to the Italian regime that had sided with Nazi Germany, that was right,” he said, adding that “But to scapegoat law-abiding Italian Canadians, that was wrong.”
“To the men and women who were taken to Prisoner of War camps or jail without charge – people who are no longer with us to hear this apology – to the tens of thousands of innocent Italian Canadians who were labelled enemy aliens, to the children and grandchildren who have carried a past generation’s shame and hurt, and to their community, a community that has given so much to our country, we are sorry,” Trudeau said.
Canada is home to approximately 1.6 million Italian Canadians – one of the largest Italian diasporas in the world.
The former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney had earlier offered an apology for the internment of the Italian Canadians art a gathering of Italian Canadian organizations in 1990.