The Glengarry News
Canada’s overlooked immigrants
BY ANGELA BROWN
Staff Sandra Joyce wonders why it took so long for her to learn a part of Canada’s history that impacted the lives of more than 100,000 impoverished children, including her own father.
The Toronto author, who visited the Lancaster library last week, wants to raise awareness about the British Home Children, impoverished orphans aged 4 to 15, who came to Canada between 1869 and 1939, to work as farm labourers and domestics.
She is also promoting a petition to request a formal apology from the government for what she calls “one of Canada’s largest immigration schemes.”
The e-petition so far has 900 signatures; the paper petition had 200 names each of the five times it has already been tabled. She wants a Member of Parliament to present a motion to formally acknowledge the event took place. “It really does need to be done,” she said.
About 20 people attended her presentation in Lancaster to hear her story.
Ms. Joyce discovered that her father was a Home Child by looking at a ship’s passenger list when she visited Halifax Harbour in 2004.
“It was an absolute surprise. That was what led me to do all of this because he was part of this huge movement of children and I knew nothing about it,” she said. “Being a Canadian, having studied Canadian histo- ry as part of journalism, nothing was every mentioned about this. I decided that I needed to do something about it.” Her first step was writing her book
Originally from Scotland, Ms. Joyce’s father and his brother were just young children at the time they were shipped to Canada, where they were separated and never saw one another again. Her father, who passed away in 2002, didn’t reveal his story to her. But she feels some satisfaction in knowing the truth about his history and has been able to connect with relatives of her family since then. Another book,
is also available as part of the school curriculum for students ages 10 and over.
In this book she tries to show youth how they can connect their lives to the story of the British Home Children.
She relates that about 10 per cent of Canadians are British Home Child descendants.
She wants people to be aware of a British Home Child database, rootschat.com, with more than 24,000 names of Home Children. More information is available at British Home Child Group International. There is also an online petition at: connect@ britishhomechild. com and a Facebook Page at: Families of British Home Children at facebook.com/groups/605557341 10/