May 31, 2011
Interview 1 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.
In this opening clip Attilio Girardi introduces himself and speaks about his family.
Attilio Girardi mentions the schools he attended in British Columbia while growing up. He also mentions that after he completed his schooling in Canada his father sent him to Italy so that he could learn to speak proper Italian.
In this clip Attilio Girardi speaks of his father Bruno Girardi’s migration to Canada in the early 1900s. His father remained in Canada for some time and then returned to Italy in 1922. Fearing the imminence of war in Europe Girardi’s parents encouraged him to return to Canada.
Attilio Girardi briefly mentions that his father was arrested and sent to a tribunal in Petawawa on June 10, 1940. The basis for this arrest was that the Italian newspaper he co-owned with his brother, called L’Eco, was seen to be pro-fascist.
Attilio Girardi speaks about the founding of the newspaper L’Eco and Bruno Girardi’s role in running the paper.
In this clip Attilio Girardi speaks about his uncle Attilio Girardi and the work he was doing while Bruno Girardi was running the newspaper.
Attilio Girardi discusses his life and career in the years after the war. He also speaks of his involvement in a variety of family businesses over the years.
Attilio Girardi mentions that prior to the war his father was a member of the Circolo Giulio Giordani in Vancouver. Girardi believes an informant in the organization collected a list of names and submitted the list to the government. As a result his father, among others, was arrested on June 10, 1940.
Attilio Girardi describes the difficulty his mother had while his father was interned. Attilio and his mother were declared enemy aliens and were refused assistance by the government. They were only able to survive due to the assistance of his maternal grandparents.
In this clip Attilio Girardi shares his father’s account of life in the Kananaskis Internment Camp. The internees were well-fed and were able to engage in social activities such as soccer and baseball with both Italian and German internees.
Attilio Girardi shares the contents of one of the letters his father sent his mother while he was interned. He mentions that his father kept in touch via letters frequently and was often concerned for their well-being. He also mentions that the internees were paid for work completed in the camp.
Attilio Girardi briefly mentions his father’s release from the internment camp. He also mentions that his father maintained friendships with other internees well after the war.
Attilio Girardi discusses his father’s involvement in the church and within the community after his release from the internment camp.
Attilio Girardi shares that his father never felt any animosity against the Canadian government for his internment.
In this short clip Attilio Girardi mentions that his father faced some discrimination for his Italian heritage once he was released from internment.
Attilio Girardi discusses how his father had to report to the local authorities monthly after he was released from camp. He says that although his father was not happy about this, he believes this collective experience made the Italian Canadian community stronger.
In this clip Attilio Girardi shares his father’s memories of time in the Kananaskis Internment Camp. Bruno Girardi was housed in Hut 32 with his brother Attilio and a number of German prisoners of war.
Attilio Girardi shares the story of how his parents met. He also reiterates that his father was most worried about his and his mother while he was away and that thankfully his grandparents were able to help them survive.
Attilio Girardi mentions that although his mother was designated an enemy alien, he does not recall her going to report monthly. He also mentions that his father never had an issue in business later in his life due to his internment and enemy alien designation.
Attilio Girardi discusses his father’s experience before the tribunal in Petawawa. He reads from a letter, providing the charges laid against his father and alludes to an informant who was responsible for a number of men being interned.
Attilio Girardi speaks about how his father, along with many other Italians, admired Benito Mussolini for introducing certain legislation in Italy.
Attilio Girardi discusses the opinions his father expressed in front of the National Congress of Italian Canadians (NCIC) in January 1990.
In this clip Attilio Girardi mentions that after his release from the internment camp his father received a letter requesting he appear at the conscription office and report for Canadian military service.
Attilio Girardi mentions that the most important thing he learned from his father is how to get along with every nationality. He also goes on to discuss how he learned how to run a business from his father and the various businesses he’s been involved in throughout his life.
Attilio Girardi briefly mentions the events surrounding his father’s arrest on June 10, 1940.
Attilio Girardi discusses how he does not feel any animosity toward the government for interning his father, but he is upset at the way he and his mother were treated and that they were denied any relief.
In this clip Attilio Girardi further elaborates on his feelings toward the Canadian government regarding how him and his mother were treated during World War II. He also discusses his feelings on whether the Canadian government should compensate the families of the interned.
July 05, 2011
Interview 2 With Attilio Girardi
Attilio Girardi begins his second interview with a description of objects that belonged to his father, Bruno Girardi. The first object is a sign that features the names of all the internees from Hut 32, his barrack in Camp Kananaskis. He also shows a letter from the Canadian government regarding his father’s release. Attilio also displays two paintings by a German internee at camp Kananaskis that were given to his father during July 1941, as well as a sports certificate from Camp Petawawa. Attilio also remembers his early experiences travelling around the city of Vancouver with his mother and shares both his opinion and his late father’s opinion about the compensation they believe Italian Canadians should receive from the Canadian government.
In this opening clip Attilio Girardi displays the sign that hung outside his father’s hut in the internment camp in Kananaskis. He also speaks about other objects his father brought home from the camp.
Attilio Girardi shares that his father enjoyed his time in the internment camp and talks about some of the activities he participated in.
In this clip Attilio Girardi talks about his family’s enemy alien designation and how he and his mother were affected by his father’s internment.
Attilio Girardi displays two paintings that his father brought home from the internment camp that were given to him by a German internee.
Attilio Girardi shows a certificate his father received at Camp Petawawa for winning a softball championship.
Attilio Girardi reads from a letter regarding his father’s release from the internment camp.
Attilio Girardi shares his father’s opinions about Canada.
Attilio Girardi speaks about his mother and her early life living in Vancouver.
Attilio Girardi briefly recalls how his mother coped during his father’s internment.
Attilio Girardi talks about his father’s involvement in the Order Sons of Italy and the various picnics he would attend as a child.
Attilio Girardi talks about his father’s working life after his internment.
Attilio Girardi speaks about the Little Italy in Vancouver.
Attilio Girardi talks about his father’s involvement with Sacred Heart Church and Father Bortignon.