May 31, 2011
Interview 1 With Genero Joseph (Joe) Brescia
Genero Joseph (Joe) Brescia was born in 1920 in Grimaldi, Cozenza, Italy, but as a toddler, he moved with his parents and sister to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Joe recalls his early life living in a multi-ethnic neighbourhood in Fort William, going to school, playing sports, and having lots of friends. During World War II, Joe and his sister were both declared enemy aliens and had to report to the Mounties at the Fort William Hotel. He mentions the difficulty in travelling with his then pregnant sister during their monthly reporting. Joe also talks about joining the Canadian military and being stationed in Fort Petrie, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, despite his enemy alien status. Joe was quickly relieved of his reporting obligations, once a captain heard he was an “alien” and made a call to Ottawa. Joe says that in general he and his family got along well with non-Italians and did not face discrimination during the war period. He only recalls a couple of incidents and both were while he was in the army: the first was when a superior denied honouring him with a Lance Corporal’s stripe and the second was during his discharge when another superior ridiculed him in front of a group of officers. Joe recalls the latter incident as “one of the worst.”
In this opening clip Genero Joseph Brescia introduces himself and briefly speaks about his life in Italy before he migrated with his family.
Genero Joseph Brescia speaks about his early life and schooling in Thunder Bay
Genero Joseph Brescia talks about the Thunder Bay neighbourhood he grew up in, as well as the ethnic make-up of the neighbourhood.
Genero Joseph Brescia speaks about the Italian consular agent in Thunder Bay and the role of fascism in the community. He also shares his father’s anti-fascist views.
Genero Joseph Brescia talks about how the Italians got along with the non-Italian community prior to the outbreak of war.
In this clip Genero Joseph Brescia speaks about his enemy alien designated. While he was reporting as an enemy alien he also joined the Canadian military.
Genero Joseph Brescia describes an incident of discrimination he faced while serving in the Canadian military.
In this final clip Genero Joseph Brescia talks about his life after his discharge from the Canadian military.
September 14, 2011
Interview 2 With Genero Joseph (Joe) Brescia
In this follow up interview, Genero Joseph (Joe) Brescia confirms the names of his family; his parents were Vincent Brescia and Maria Giuseppina Brescia of Grimaldi, Cozenza, Italy, and his sister was Helen Brescia. Joe also clarifies several things such as his father’s political views and empathy towards the “little guy” of the working class. Joe also explains a bit more about his duties while serving in the Canadian millitary while stationed in Nova Scotia.
In this clip Genero Joseph Brescia speaks about his parents and his sister.
Genero Joseph Brescia talks about his father’s political views and social activities.
In this clip Genero Joseph Brescia discusses how it was difficult for immigrants to find work in Thunder Bay.
Genero Joseph Brescia talks about his father’s dislike of Benito Mussolini.
Genero Joseph Brescia shares his feelings regarding being declared an enemy alien.
Genero Joseph Brescia speaks about his experience in the Canadian military and talks briefly about his life after the war.