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Interview With Assunta Dotto


May 05, 2011


Columbus Centre



Interview With Assunta Dotto

Assunta Dotto, an 89 year old woman, born in Italy, immigrated to Canada with her family as a young teenager. Her father worked for in the coalmines in Alberta, and the family settled in the coal-mining town of Cadomin in 1939. She recounts her early years in Cadomin, some difficulty with schooling and the English language, and her later move to and life in Edmonton with her husband and two children. At the outbreak of war with Italy, all the Italian residents of Cadomin were declared enemy aliens and had to report to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). She recounts this experience, noting that on the whole the Italian residents got on well with other families in the small community of Cadomin, even during the war period. She describes her work at the Great West Garment Company, including making uniforms for the military, and later career in the food service industry. Her husband’s workplace injury at Molson’s Brewery in Edmonton and the reconstructive surgery of his right thumb is also detailed. She also briefly speaks about her daughter Lidia Dotto’s career as a science writer/journalist.

In this opening clip Assunta Dotto introduces herself and speaks about her early life in Italy and her father’s migration to Canada to work in the coalmines.

Assunta Dotto speaks at length about her migration to Canada and her first experiences in her new country.

Assunta Dotto shares her first impressions of Cadomin, AB.

In this clip Assunta Dotto talks about her enemy alien designation and having to report to the local RCMP. She also shares stories of discrimination, but says that overall life was good and most people were still friendly.

Assunta Dotto mentions that she was not a part of any Italian organizations. She goes on to speak about Mussolini and some of the good work that he did in Italy prior to the war.

Assunta Dotto speaks about her early courtship with her husband, who was in the Canadian military, and their marriage in 1945.

In this clip Assunta Dotto shares the story of how she found out Italy had entered the war against Great Britain and France. She also speaks about the enemy alien designation and how it affected her family and the rest of the Italian Canadian community. She concludes the clip by talking about obtaining her Canadian citizenship.

In this clip Assunta Dotto speaks about the relationships between the Italian and non-Italian miners. According to Assunta the miners got along well and she also didn’t notice much discrimination in her own life.

Assunta Dotto speaks about her work with the Great West Garment Company during the war, where she was sewing uniforms for the Canadian military.

Assunta Dotto speaks about the closing of the coal mines in Cadomin and her move to Edmonton.

In this final clip Assunta Dotto speaks about her involvement with the Catholic church in Edmonton.