Italian Heritage Month: A message from the City of Vancouver
Italian Heritage Month is an opportunity to honour the history, culture, and contributions of Italian Canadians to the city of Vancouver. There is a month-long series of events presented by Il Centro Italian Cultural Centre, the Italian Day Festival Society with its street festival ‘Italian Day on The Drive’, the Commercial Drive Business Society with historic ‘Little Italy’ designation, as well as other partner initiatives and collaborations.
In addition to the celebrations, Italian Heritage Month is also a time to remember the hardships faced by Italian Canadians who struggled to immigrate to Vancouver, build their lives and businesses, and contribute to our city.
Despite the community’s long history and deep roots in Vancouver, in 1940, following the declaration of war against Italy by the federal government, approximately three dozen Italian men that were deemed Enemy Aliens were taken from their families and sent to POW camps.
In 2022, Vancouver City Council delivered an official apology to the descendants of the internees and to Vancouver’s Italian Canadian community at large.
The apology is part of broader redress and equity work that we have embarked upon.
This is a further demonstration of our commitment to upholding the principles of human rights, justice, and reconciliation.
Official apology to the Italian Canadian community
On June 8, 2022, Vancouver City Council formally apologized during Council for the injustices enacted upon the Italian Canadian community during the Second World War and read the proclamation for Italian Heritage Month, which was then presented to several members of the community, including 2 descendants of the interned. Descendants of these Italian men were present in Council Chamber to bear witness. Watch the Council meeting online.
We hope that this apology contributes to acknowledging this truth about the past, which is a crucial part of moving forward in ensuring that past injustices are not repeated in the future.
The City of Vancouver acknowledges Italian Heritage Month as one of its Official Observances and Celebrations. The Italian community has been a part of Vancouver since before the city was incorporated in 1886. Today the Italian-Canadian community numbers over 90,000 people who proudly share their culture and embrace Vancouver’s diversity with wide open hearts.