That internment camps on Canadian soil during World War I and II existed is a matter of historical fact. The most famous of these, of course, was the internment of Japanese-Canadians.
However, the Japanese weren’t the only ones who were interned. Recall that Japan was a major player with the Axis powers, along with Germany and Italy. All three were enemies of Canada, the United States and their allies. As such, all three faced imprisonment in North America.
While many citizens were indeed interned, a large majority actually were never imprisoned. Rather, as a whole, strict curfews were imposed. It doesn’t make it right or fair but it was war.
Nonetheless, a while back I was working on an article exploring the internment of Italians in North America. We’ve heard much about the internment of Japanese- Canadians but very little of the Italians. In fact, this episode involving the Italians barely registers on the public imagination - even among Italians.
Every time I read an article (even by historians) on the subject, Japanese-Canadians are almost always mentioned, while Italians (along with Germans and Ukranians from 1914-1920, for that matter) are not.
Partly because Italian-Canadians who went through this period chose to bury it in the back of their minds.
Maybe this is all for the best.
These days, we’re obsessed with making amends with past (real or perceived) injustices. We should be careful. It’s ok to remember the past so long as it doesn’t impede progress. It happened and we must all move forward as a nation.
After all, that’s the only path to real progress.