Interview with Antoinette Olivieri

Antoinette Olivieri was born on April 14, 1929 in Hamilton, Ontario to Ralph and Louise Di Filippo. Her parents were both born in Italy, but raised in Montreal, Quebec, before moving to Hamilton to begin their life together. Antoinette is the daughter-in-law of internee Donato Olivieri — a hardworking businessman and hotel owner from Hamilton. In her second interview she recounts her experiences growing up in the city, including living in a predominantly Irish and Scottish neighbourhood, attending St. Patrick’s elementary school, and the underlying sense of discrimination that was directed towards Italians in the community. Antoinette explains that her parents spoke both of the official languages in addition to Italian, however they were only able to speak English in Hamilton due to this sense of hostility; Italian and French were only spoken while visiting relatives in Montreal. Her parents were both business owners (her dad was a barber and her was mother a hair stylist) in the community, and speaking only English was one way to ensure support from patrons in the community. Antoinette discusses the sense of support she received from other ItalianCanadians in Hamilton during her father’s medical emergency, as well as her experience taking Italian classes at Casa d’Italia.  She concludes her interview by saying that Canada is a good country and that while internees had to re-build their lives, she still identifies herself as Canadian-Italian rather than Italian-Canadian, although her family roots will always be with Italy.