Bonavia, George (5.2.1920-)

Maltese activist in Canada

Born at Zabbar, Bonavia was educated at the Lyceum. He pursued a University course in 1939-40 in health and hygiene and was employed as Health Inspector with the Department of Health. During the war he served in the KOMR. In 1945 he was appointed editor with the Allied Malta Newspapers, a post he held until 1948 when he emigrated to Canada.

In 1953 Bonavia acquired Canadian citizenship and joined the Immigration Department as an Immigration Officer. He has since held several other posts, including Information Officer with the Canada Immigration Department in Ottawa (1965), PRO with the Immigration Office of the Canadian Embassy in Rome (1966-68) and PRO with the Department of Employment and Immigration, Ottawa dealing with the ethnic media and ethnocultural organizations (1968-82).

Bonavia was the editor of Kaleidoscope Canada, a monthly magazine dealing with immigration and ethnocultural affairs. He retired in 1982 but continued to write about ethnocultural affairs.

Bonavia has been most active amongst the Maltese community in Canada. He started the first Maltese radio programme, edited and published the only Maltese newspaper, and wrote four books on Canada, Focus on Canadian Immigration (Ottawa, 1977), Maltese in Canada (Ottawa, 1980), Immigrants We Read About (Ottawa, 1986), and Ethnic Publications in Canada (Ottawa, 1987).

Bonavia was instrumental in organizing the Windsor Citizenship Council. For several years he produced the International Rendezvous, a half-hour weekly programme carried on the English network of CBC. In 1961 he edited and published The Citizen's News, a monthly magazine in English for and about the ethnic communities. He also contributed regularly to Canadian Scene, a news service to the ethnic media.

In recognition for his long service to the Maltese community, Bonavia was given several honours and awards. He was made Knight of Malta (1958) and awarded the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal (1977), the Canadian Ethnic Journalists Award (1979), and the Citizenship Merit Award (1987).

Bonavia married Mary Grech in 1946.

Source: Maltese Biographies of the Twentieth Century (1997), editors Michael J. Schiavone and Louis J. Scerri

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