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1936RE: British Home Children

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  • Xenia Stanford
    Aug 31, 2003
      I felt the point the show made was even if some/many had good homes and went
      on to lead successful lives, the denial of records and connection to their
      families at home left a homesickness that never went away. Can you imagine
      your child being removed without your permission or knowledge from your care
      and shipped off to a foreign country never to be heard from again? Or of
      being that child not knowing who your family was or why you were sent away?

      It is the denial of a natural need to be connected with family and the
      ability to search for your roots that was so difficult for these home
      children. Children were removed without their parents consent or even
      knowledge. The show stated they were basically kidnapped and the governments
      of Britain and Canada turned a blind eye. Not only that, but the British
      government passed a law that made it legal to remove children without
      parental permission from their homes and families to be shipped overseas.
      Thus it became legalized kidnapping and a horrible denial of basic human
      rights even though most involved stated they were solving rather than
      creating problems. One of the interviewees said Bernardo truly thought he
      was fulfilling his Christian mission and that his actions were in the
      families' and childrens' best interests to do so.

      I was about to relate my own personal experience and why I have such empathy
      for the home children but I know the messages are available publicly on the
      Internet. So just suffice it to say I was separated from my parents and most
      of my siblings when I was aged 5. This left wounds that perhaps have never
      healed though I have made peace with it and understand that the only person
      it hurts when you hold a grudge is you.

      I am not trying to discourage you from reading "The Little Immigrants" or
      Perry Snow's book just because the subject matter is painful. I believe it
      is as important a part of our history as the deportation of the Acadians,
      the lost of rights suffered by the Japanese and Ukrainian families during
      the war years, and the treatment of natives and Metis while our country was
      being settled.
      All these are part of our history and another old saw I believe in is "what
      doesn't kill you makes you stronger". The positive in these stories for me
      is that the suffering of our immigrant ancestors has made Canada what it is
      today and we are a strong bunch!

      There are so many stories like this even on a smaller scale and I am sure
      that many of us can relay tales of how our immigrant ancestors faced and
      overcame hardships so their children and other descendants could have a
      better life. My grandmother left her two month old daughter behind with her
      mother when she came to Canada with her husband and my father because they
      were led to believe they would become rich in three years and return home
      never to have to worry about making a living again. My grandmother was 24
      then and she died at age 83 never having seen her parents, siblings or other
      relatives again. She was always homesick for what she called "the old
      country" and her family.

      She did see her baby daughter again but not until this daughter was in her
      forties and came to Canada. This aunt told me she was well-cared for by her
      grandmother but that she never overcame the losing her parents as a child.
      She thought there was something wrong with her that her own mother abandoned

      Well guess I did share a bit more than I had intended and I will
      nevertheless send this because to me the search for my roots is more than
      just finding the "hatched, matched and dispatched" records of my ancestors.
      Learning the human emotional side of the past, I realize and appreciate what
      my immigrant ancestors gave up in order that they could have more than "a
      teaspoon of land" as my grandaunt wrote in her diary.


      -----Original Message-----
      From: owner-dist-gen@...
      [mailto:owner-dist-gen@...]On Behalf Of Donna Coulter
      Sent: August 30, 2003 9:39 AM
      To: dist-gen@...; Rene Dussome
      Subject: Re: British Home Children

      Yes Rene-- It is nice to be reminded that there were some
      success or happy stories that could / can be told about the
      Children. I wish that I had asked more questions about the
      Home Boy's that were with my great grandparents. There were
      never any horror stories about them,-- both fought in the
      WW -- I should check the WW records.
      One stayed in England and the other found work in Ontario
      after the war. I haven't had any success finding any
      descendants but I haven't really tried.

      There was some discrimination, as we would call it now, but
      was only that they ate at a different table. That I believe
      was the
      norm for the 'help' in that day and age--. Or maybe the
      table was too
      They also got an education, as much as anyone else in the
      I was able to correspond with the Barnard Home and was given
      an insight from that angle. No doubt they would avoid
      telling it all,
      but it was enlightening.

      I must read "Little Immigrants" I might feel better about it
      Thanks for bringing it to my attention Xenia, I had avoided
      it because
      I was afraid it would be too depressing. There seems to be
      so much
      negative thought about everything. There must have been many
      Christian homes that took the children in out of the
      goodness of their heart.
      Too often bitter memories last longer than happy ones for
      some people.

      From the heart
      Donna Coulter

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Rene Dussome" <rdussome@...>
      To: "dist-gen" <dist-gen@...>
      Sent: 29 August, 2003 11:04 PM
      Subject: British Home Children

      > Greetings:
      > Unfortunately, I did not read Mary Arthur's e-mail in time
      to watch the
      > program this evening. Nor did I pick up the item from the
      TV Guide.
      > Having read about the Home Children scheme extensively in
      the past, I am
      > fully aware of the many sad experiences suffered by the
      Home Children.
      > However, I would remind AFHS members that our own dearly
      loved member,
      > the late Ruth Duncan, shared a success story with us, that
      of her mother
      > and her mother's twin sister - Margaret and Harriet
      Sutton. (See AFHS
      > Journal Winter 94/95 volume 15 number 2.)
      > Rene Dussome
      > http://www.afhs.ab.ca


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