When my Italian Canadian grandmother met my grandfather she was a public school teacher in Welland, Ontario. She spoke perfect English. Years later, when the RCMP arrested my Grandfather on September 7, 1940 for being an enemy alien of the state, she did everything in her power to get him released quickly. This meant a lot of letter writing back and forth to government officials.
For many Italian Canadian families, this wasn’t an option due to language barriers which resulted in a longer internment of loved ones. Families struggled financially because the main breadwinners were imprisoned.
For this project, I have transcribed the first letter she wrote to Ernest Lapointe, Minister of Justice. I’m using it to build the sample portrait of my grandfather. Transcribing her letters helps me channel that time in history and what my family must have been feeling at the time. Tearing through what I have transcribed and and stitching the fragments into the portrait is an act of letting go and forgiving the past. We must not forget what happened but we can move forward from it in a positive way.
You are welcome to read the letter I just transcribed as well as other letters that were written at the time through this link: https://tinyurl.com/ClementinaSauro. #italianinternment#camppetewawa#textileart