Interview with Attilio Girardi

In his interview Attilio Girardi describes growing up and attending school in Vancouver, before being sent to Italy in 1956 to learn Italian. He also speaks about his father Bruno Girardi’s early life: Bruno was born in Canada but lived in Italy from 1922-1935 with his brother (also named Attilio). There, Bruno studied to become a boat captain at a nautical college in Venice. In 1935, at the advice of their father, Bruno and Attilio returned to Canada to avoid the danger of being Canadian-born Italians living in Italy when war seemed imminent. Upon his return to Vancouver, Bruno co-founded the newspaper L’Eco. Attilio recounts how his father was arrested at home and taken to a tribunal in Petawawa. He was then transferred to Kananaskis where he was interned for 18 months. Upon his release he was required to report monthly to the local authorities; a process that lasted until July 26, 1943. Bruno’s brother, Attilio, was also interned in the same cabin with 10 German internees. Attilio explains that his father did not find his time at the camp difficult, however he was worried about how his absence affected the family back home. Attilio says that his father was not interned for his work with his newspaper, but because of an informant who said that he was a German sympathizer. He states that if he had the chance to discuss his father’s internment with the Canadian Government, he would ask why people that who were born in Canada were declared enemy aliens.