SECTION VI |
THE STIGMA OF BEING A HOME CHILD
ITS RESIDUAL EFFECTS ON SUCCESSIVE GENERATIONS
"You ask me why I do not tell you
who I am? It's because
if I do, and you laugh at me . . . I'm
all I've got left!
(from a 1997 colloquium in the Canadian
Parliament Buildings on
Peace and Understanding, at which the
HOME CHILDREN CANADA was an invited participant.)
is indeed true that the certainties of yesterday are all too often
the headaches of today. From the 1880sif not beforeto
1945 the pseudo-science of eugenics played major role in
stigmatizing children who were shipped out of Britain and in stultifying
the growth of their own legitimate self-worth and esteem. (cf
OUR OWN MASTER RACE by Angus MacLaren). Consider that the youngsters
were commonly called "Street Arabs, "urchins",
"Waifs and Strays". This latter name was the
unfortunate title chosen by Church of England authorities for
their commendable organisation. The name was changed to The Children's
Society only in 1945."Tell me little girl: Are you a Waif
or a Stray?"Even "Home Child" was derogatory.
(cf ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by Lucy Maude Montgomery)
2. In Britain,
Churchill, HG Wells and GB Shaw were said to be eugenicists. In
Canada, WS Woodsworth and Tommy Douglas (Fathers of Canadian Medicare)
and Charlotte Whitton were believers. So, ultimately was Hitler.
Hitler and Whitton, did not outgrow the fad; the others presumably
3. Canada, the USA, France and the northern countries of Europe
are only now coming to terms with the sterilization programs that
ensued from the belief in eugenics. No country has yet officially
admitted that exporting children from the "mother country"
and treating them badly in the colonies were also effects.
pseudo-science of "eugenics"that morality, criminality,
mental and physical defects could lead to race degeneracy supported
Whittons's stance . . . she connected moral deficiency with immigration
. . . Whitton connected immigration, domestic service and mental
deficiency". (From No Bleeding Heart by Rooke & Schnell)
(Whitton was the first female mayor of a large city in CanadaOttawaand
a social worker (?) closely connected at one time with the League
of Nations and global projects involving Children.)
5. In her efforts
to keep Canadian-British blood lines pure, Whitton and others
so stigmatized Home Children that to this day many of them will
not talk of their past. This perhaps, is the greatest Child
migration sin of all.
6. BARNARDOS RECOGNIZES THE DEPTH OF
THE HURT IN HOME CHILDREN AND ITS RESIDUAL EFFECTS ON DESCENDANTS.
Please consult Collette Bradford, Head of After Care at Barnardos.
She has accepted our invitation to visit Canada and meet Home
Children from all agencies. As a result we have been included
on the Barnardo Team and will be again in September 1998 at Toronto,
Peterborough and elsewhere when we meet with Home Children and
their descendants at what are essentially healing ceremonies.
We chose at this time to refer you to two letters (Addendum B)
that perhaps best explain the effects of Child Migration and the
stigma associated with it.WE DEEM THE FOLLOWING TEXTS SIGNIFICANT.
extracts are from letters of greeting sent to our Reunions by
dignitaries who, in recognizing the contribution made to Canada
by Home Children, are helping to replace an unjust stigma with
1. Governor General Ray HnatyshynAs Governor
General of Canada, I am honoured to extend my warmest greetings
to all attending the national reunion of the "Home Children".
Of the many stories which newcomers to Canada have to tell, there
are few more heart rending than those that are told by the "Home
Children". Removed from their homes in England, frequently
against their will or as "orphans", these children arrived
in Canada without their families and, indeed, without their history.
These young pioneers were sent to farms throughout Canada and
courageously began to build new lives, make new friends and to
discover new dreams.Despite their often tragic circumstances,
the "Home Children" grew into proud and productive Canadians.
Their contributions to our society and the strength of their spirit
are a unique part of our Canadian heritage. I have no doubt that,
as we learn more about their history and their accomplishments,
the "Home Children" can become an inspiration for many
Canadians seeking a better world for themselves and their communities.
behalf of all Canadians and as Her Majesty's representative in
Canada, I send my best wishes to the participants in the national
reunion of the "Home Children" as they gather to share
their stories and successes with people who have lived through
2. Prime Minister Jean Chretien (from a personal
letter to each Home Child attending an Ottawa Reunion)I am
delighted to convey my warmest greetings to everyone attending
the 4th Annual Home Child Reunion. This event provides you with
a special opportunity to reflect upon your life in Canada and
share your experiences. It also allows us to salute you for your
many contributions to the development of this nation. Your pioneering
and brave spirit enabled you to overcome adversity and to meet
challenges with perseverance and vigour. I am pleased to join
with those who gratefully acknowledge the important role you have
played in the growth and prosperity of our country.
3. Prayer of Archbishop Gervais of OttawaOur
Father, whose Son told us "to suffer the little children
to come unto us", bless all the Home Children who came to
our shores, who were so often alone and helpless. We pray for
their children and their children's children. And we dedicate
this memorial to them today we ask forgiveness of them and of
you Father for any pain they suffered. We pray for any who may
have been the cause of their pain, and that altogether, we may
praise you and one day be with you. We ask this through Jesus
Christ your Son. Amen.
4. Prime Minister Jean ChretienThis year your
discussions will include a celebration of Canada's Home Children,
whose many contributions are worthy of recognition and admiration.
Though the path they were given to follow was often difficult,
they persevered and overcame the obstacles placed before them
to become valuable citizens with families of their own. I join
with you in applauding their spirit and their commitment to life.
5. Ms. Sheila Copps, Deputy Prime Minister and
Minister of Canadian HeritageThe immigration of 100,000 home
children which occurred over close to 70 years is an important
period in our past. The conditions of life and the way of thinking
of that period wounded, often profoundly, the children who were
almost abandoned to their fate . . . We can express our complete
admiration for the strength of will, the stamina and the endurance
that make the home children outstanding Canadians.
6. Prime Minister Jean ChretienOur past holds
the seeds of our future, and it is appropriate that the contributions
of those who helped shape the unique character of our country
should be recognized. As you gather to celebrate the history that
binds you to one another, I know that you will look back upon
the remarkable lives of the Home Children with pride and a sense
WORDING OF ONTARIO'S
FIRST HISTORICAL PLAQUE TO COMMEMORATE HOME CHILDREN erected in
Renfrew in 1994 by Home Children, their families, friends, Heritage
Renfrew and the Ontario Heritage Foundation
OTTAWA VALLEY HOME CHILDREN
From 1869 until the Great Depression England exported
about 100,000 children to Canada as cheap farm labourers. Hundreds,
perhaps thousands, came to the Ottawa Valley. Not all were orphans;
some were sent over without the knowledge or permission of their
parents; others were sponsored by benefactors who saw greater
hope for them in this land of plenty. Virtually all were poor.
Most were between seven and 14 years of age, but some were mere
toddlers. Each child was supposed to get room, board, token pay
and some education. Many received no wages, no schooling, and
much abuse. To their credit most "Home Children" overcame
privation, loneliness and prejudice to become productive and proud
Canadians. Their descendants and the citizens of Renfrew honoured
them and celebrated their contribution to this country at the
first Reunion for Home Children, in Renfrew in 1991.