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Interview With Teresa Mongiat


July 26, 2011


Columbus Centre



Interview With Teresa Mongiat

Teresa Mary Mongiat (née Bertoli) was born in Italy on June 1, 1924. In December of 1930, the Bertolis immigrated to Toronto, Canada and settled within the Friulani community in the Junction. Teresa’s family relied on relief (welfare), as her mother did not work and her father, being sickly, was on and off work. Teresa recalls her family renting and living with other families, stating that at one point there were eight kids living in the house. Teresa doesn’t speak of this in negative light; in fact she cherishes the way everyone shared and helped each other. In 1940, Teresa was 16 years old, and found it hard to secure a job because she was Italian. She finally found work as a domestic, working for an Italian family. It was during this time, that Teresa was ordered by the RCMP to report to the local police station. Teresa feels that her enemy alien designation during World War II was due to her Italian birth and because she did not possess citizen papers, like her parents. Teresa explains that at first she had to report weekly, and then monthly. She was finally relieved from her reporting duties when she complained of its inconvenience. During the war, Teresa changed jobs and worked in a plumbing warehouse; she talks briefly about the changing role of women as they entered the workforce. Also in this interview, Teresa talks about social events she attended at various Italian Canadian community organizations. In the postwar period, Teresa helped new immigrants, who did not speak English, by accompanying them to doctor’s appointments and/or immigration offices.

In this opening clip Teresa Mongiat introduces herself and speaks about her family, their migration to Canada and briefly mentions that she was declared an enemy alien during World War II.

Teresa Mongiat speaks of her family’s voyage to Canada and the Toronto neighbourhood they settled in upon their arrival.

Teresa Mongiat talks about her life growing up in Toronto during the Depression. She explains that her father had difficulty finding work due to health problems and thus the family relied on relief.

Teresa Mongiat describes how the family relied upon community support during the Depression. She mentions that her parents rented their home in Toronto and that at one point her family shared a home with another family.

In this clip Teresa Mongiat mentions that upon completing grade 8 she began working in order to support her family, however, she initially found it difficult to find work due to her Italian surname.

Teresa Mongiat speaks about being designated an enemy alien during World War II and having to report to the local police.

In this clip Teresa Mongiat speaks about other Italian Canadians whom she knew in the neighbourhood who were also designated as enemy aliens.

Teresa Mongiat talks about the discrimination she faced in Toronto during World War II.

Teresa Mongiat mentions that immediately after the war ended she applied for her Canadian citizenship.

Teresa Mongiat discusses her involvement with Famee Furlane and other Italian social organizations.

In this clip Teresa Mongiat speaks about how the community supported her family after they immigrated to Canada and how she reciprocated by helping new immigrants after the war.