Enemy Aliens

I believe war was declared in June – June 10. And [my mother] was pregnant with me at the time. There was roughly three weeks where she would have had to report to the RCMP. And they had no cars. There really wasn’t much transportation because I remember when we used to travel up to Copper Cliff later on when we moved to Sudbury, we had to go through mountains to get to a bus. And of course, she was nine months pregnant. And I remember her telling me that Dad went to the RCMP and said, ”This is not acceptable.” So that’s what she had to go through. He didn’t have to report, but she did.

Noreen Alberico, daughter of enemy alien Yolanda Andreoni Gaggi, Sudbury, video interview, Columbus Centre Collection

I was going to report every month to the RCMP in Edmonton. The RCMP officer said to me, “Why are you coming here every month with that paper?” I says, “Cause I was told from the RCMP in Cadomin.” “Oh”, he said, “Wait a minute.” So he went back. He came back, put a stamp on it. He says, “Don't come back.” So I guess he realized, you know. I guess I was about 17, 18, by then. What damage could I do?

Assunta Dotto, Edmonton, video interview, Columbus Centre Collection

Not all Italian Canadians considered a threat to Canada were interned. About 31,000 men, women and children were registered as enemy aliens, and they reported monthly to local authorities known as registrars. Appointed by the Minister of Justice, registrars were provincial or municipal police officers as well as postal clerks. Each enemy alien was asked a series of questions, namely age, address, place of work, and number of family members.

It is not clear how authorities decided who would have to report regularly. Those who were released after their initial arrest signed a form stating that they would obey the laws of Canada, not hinder the war effort, and report monthly. Both naturalized and, in some cases, Canadian-born individuals were required to do this.

The process was inconsistent. Some showed up at local police stations only to be told they did not have to return while others had to continue to report. Those who reported monthly were required under the Defence of Canada Regulations (DOCR) to carry an “identification document.” However, the types of paperwork varied. Some carried a Certificate of Parole that was signed by a registrar; others had a registration card that identified them as enemy aliens.