*numbers provided by thecanadianencyclopedia.com
Camp 33, Petawawa, Ontario and Ripples (Camp B 70) Fredericton, New Brunswick
The now infamous Camp Petawawa officially opened on September 23, 1939 and held 800 internees - the majority were German and Italian until the Japanese prisoners of war (POWs) arrived during the winter of 1941. Internees wore jackets with large red circles on their backs to be easily identifiable to the guards. Internees were allowed to send and receive mail, although it was heavily censored. Visits from family members were prohibited except in very rare cases. Camp 33 is featured in the only written account of life at Petawawa in Mario Duliani’s book City Without Women.
Many Italian Canadian internees from Petawawa were relocated to Camp Ripples near Fredericton, New Brunswick when the influx of Japanese Canadians began to populate Petawawa. Camp Ripples opened in 1940 until 1945 and was known for its harsh winter conditions.
There were several redress campaigns that emerged in the late 1980’s. One campaign began in 1988 by the (CIBPA) or Canadian Italian Business and Professional Men’s Association whose president was internee Antonio Capobianco of Montreal and another campaign was started by the (NCIC) or National Congress of Italian Canadians - National Executive in Toronto by lawyer Annamarie Castrilli and then President of the NCIC.
In 1990, then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney formerly apologized to the Italian Canadian community at an NCIC dinner in Toronto sparking controversy within the Italian Canadian community because it was an apology not issued in Parliament.
On April 28, 2010 -- Bill C302 the Italian-Canadian Recognition and Restitution Act introduced by Massimo Pacetti Liberal MP for Saint-Leonard – Saint Michel was passed in the House of Commons and awaits passage in the Senate. The Bill once again requests a formal apology from the Canadian Federal Government to Italian Canadians for their ‘enemy alien’ designation during WW2 and revives the idea of restitution.
Excerpts from Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s speech November 4, 1990 National Congress of Italian Canadians event.
Courtesy credit: Canada Office of the Prime Minister 1990
“What happened to many Italian Canadians is deeply offensive to the simple notion of respect for human dignity and the presumption of innocence. The brutal injustice was inflicted arbitrarily, not only on individuals suspected of being security risks but also on individuals whose only crime was being of Italian origin. In fact, many of the arrests were based on membership in Italian-Canadian organizations — much like the ones represented here today. None of the 700 internees was ever charged with an offence and no judicial proceedings were launched. It was often, in the simplest terms, an act of prejudice — organized and carried out under law, but prejudice nevertheless.
This kind of behaviour was not then, is not now, and never will be acceptable in a civilized nation that purports to respect the rule of law. On behalf of the government and people of Canada, I offer a full and unqualified apology for the wrongs done to our fellow Canadians of Italian origin during World War II.”