What’s in a Photograph? Debating Images of Italian Canadian Internment

  • Gabriele Scardellato


In 2006 the Canadian federal government began to respond to demands to redress historic wrongs committed against “immigrant minorities” through the Community Historical Recognition Program (CHRP). This article focuses on a major Italian Canadian project created by this program and analyzes the public history version of the internment narrative that it produces. That narrative is based on a variety of sources—including interviews with the descendants of internees and collections of photographs—that were brought together for the first time by this project. This study argues that even if one of the major CHRPfunded projects apparently circumvented the government’s effort to control the recognition message, the resulting history remains problematic. The version of the recognition message that emerges from the Italian Canadians as Enemy Aliens website fails to analyze the complicated information contained in its own sources, particularly the photographs of Italian Canadians.