Monday, 2 October 2017

Home Child Ignorance

It was dismaying to read a member's statement in the House of Commons by Ms. Anita Vandenbeld (Ottawa West—Nepean, Lib.), an international expert on democracy and human rights, who shows a sad ignorance of the domestic history of British Home Child.

She stated "children were herded into camps", described the child immigration program as "stricken with corruption, and it was poorly implemented and virtually unsupervised" with children who "often found themselves forced into indentured servitude and hard labour, often facing physical and emotional abuse from their new parents, who viewed them as disposable, unpaid workers to be discarded if they did not perform."

Vandenbeld has swallowed the KoolAid brewed by embittered descendants of home child who experienced ill-treatment. While there are certainly documented cases of child abuse and deficient management of programs in Canada to paint that as the majority situation is unfounded, an insult to many Canadians who compassionately hosted British Home Children and the leaders and staff of philanthropic agencies that undertook well-meaning immigration programs. Where are the peer reviewed studies that justify such harsh criticism of programs that took orphan, neglected or abused children in Britain and gave them a fresh start from which some prospered, some unfortunately did not.

A more realistic view is in an item British Home Children – A Personal Journey by OGS Director Ali Thompson in the latest OGS weekly newsletter. It tells the sad story of Ali's dad, an orphaned child, as far as it is known. There is a period where his situation is unknown -  "I am hitting road blocks and brick walls as I continue to research into the missing years of dad’s life from 1923 to 1940!"

However, Ali Thompson's item starts with the statement "Our British Home Children represented 12% of the Canadian population, with their descendants now numbering over 4,000,000 Canadians.". This type of figure has been repeated often, but without any source showing the demographic basis for the statistics.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for attempting to put forward the side of the Silent Majority - those children who experienced a life the same as Canadian children of the day. Many lives were good and there were some great lives. Yes some children had bad experiences but the same can be said for Canadian born children
Gloria F. Tubman
British Home Child Researcher

Anonymous said...

Here here John!!!!
Coincidence: I just finished reminding a distant cousin about details of her grandfather's life, who came here as a "Home Child" in 1891 via the Quarrier home in Scotland, to assist a nephew in some school project. The couple who took in her grandfather and his younger brother were cousins of mine, and it was clear after over 15 years of marriage that they would not have children of their own. So they took in the two small boys from the Marchmont Home in Belleville.
Sadly the youngest of these boys died young from TB, which no doubt he caught in Scottish slums. His "parents" got him playing trumpet in the Governor General's Foot Guards band, no doubt thinking it good for the boys's lungs, and also sent him to live with an uncle in California, where good sea air might have been helpful. When he died, he was buried close to the family of his caregivers.
The eldest, who survived, was described in later censuses as "a partner" in the family farm in Gloucester, and in another had a sister of his who emmigrated to Canada and was a nurse, taking care of the old gent of the couple who had informally adopted the two boys. When the old fellow died in 1925 at the age of 82, that Home Child boy inherited the family farm. I must stress that. It was a FAMILY farm!
Photos show the informal parents with the two boys, all well dressed in their Sunday best: there is no doubt that they were a FAMILY! Well done, John. Cheers, BT

Anonymous said...

Read this site, https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199798/cmselect/cmhealth/755/8052022.htm, we feel the ignorance is yours. Get over yourself John, a 67% abuse number is a FAILURE, or are your suggesting we bring back child abuse because it seems to have been ok in YOUR eyes, or didn't matter because a few did ok.

To emphasise strongly, that regardless of the above (paragraph (f)), Home Children and their families still suffer serious legal, financial and emotional or psychological consequences as a result of child migration and... that the British government can help rectify the situation by acting on the recommendations we have made.

8. To impress upon Committee members that the greatest sin of child migration was the inflicting of a stigma upon all Home Children—a stigma that was terrible in its consequences and yet also built upon the fifteen emotional phases the children had to pass through as a result of loss and separation (Kubler-Ross) and also on the abuse that 67 per cent are known to have suffered.

10. To implore that you include in your final report a recognition of the consequences of loss and separation, abuse and the stigma, because by merely doing so you will greatly alleviate the heavy burden so little immigrants and their descendants still bear.
. To dare to advise what steps you can take in "the old country" and in the former colonies to rectify the problems of today that are the result of the certainties of yesterday (see "Recommendations"). Also to advise that you could perhaps make use of the brief on Irish Child Migrants which Dick Spring, TD, former Minister for Foreign Affairs for the Republic of Ireland, has already submitted to the Department of Foreign Affairs, St. Stephen's Green, Dublin.

11. To invite you as a Committee or as individuals to come to Canada to meet Home Children and their descendants and hear for yourself that what I say on their behalf is true, and if that is impossible...

Anonymous said...

Are you suggesting that child abuse was good for these children, so perhaps we should bring it back now. Sad John, very sad that you could feel this way about children where 67 percent suffered abuse. Heartless.

JDR said...

I note there are no references to back up the 67% figure. If you know of the peer reviewed source please post it. If not admit it.

JDR said...

What I`m saying is that by coming to Canada these children were given a chance for a better life. You have provided no peer reviewed evidence for the 67% number you quote. Perhaps you would prefer they had remained in the UK in situations of abuse or neglect. The more humane options today were not available in those times.

Anonymous said...

Speak to David Lorente who released these figures or do you figure he's making it up. Read the back third of Nation Builders. It's pretty ignorant to suggest that these children we received a life just like canadian-born children. There are way too many stories about these children suffering to sugar-coated and ignore what happened to them. Shame on you and shame on Gloria Turbin for glossing over the very harsh and negative realities for very many of these children. And to make comments when the honor is 75 of these children who died horrendous death is once again trying to hide what happened to them and pretend that it really wasn't all that bad. Can they not have their moment? Can they not have their recognition?

JDR said...

Speak to David Lorente who released these figures or do you figure he's making it up.

My understanding is that Dave Lorente is in poor health and unlikely to be able to answer such a query.

Read the back third of Nation Builders. It's pretty ignorant to suggest that these children we received a life just like canadian-born children. There are way too many stories about these children suffering to sugar-coated and ignore what happened to them.

Anecdotal evidence such as in Nation Builders are an inadequate basis for making the kind of generalizations you propound. If even 1% of home children were ill treated in Canada (very sad) that would be more than 1,000, enough to furnish all the examples used in such books.
Where did I say they had a life just like Canadian-born children? They drew the short straw in the UK. That would carry over to Canada, they didn’t have the advantages of the average Canadian-born child, but I don’t know how they fared compared to Canadian children born into similar deprived circumstances. Do you?

Shame on you and shame on Gloria Turbin (Tubman) for glossing over the very harsh and negative realities for very many of these children. And to make comments when the honor is 75 of these children who died horrendous death is once again trying to hide what happened to them and pretend that it really wasn't all that bad. Can they not have their moment? Can they not have their recognition?

Shame on you (lurking behind a post as anonymous) for failing to recognize the good work of the charitable immigration agencies, their supporters and the many Canadians who took in these children to provide them a fresh start. Yes, the agencies were not perfect (none of us are) and there were problems with placements. Yes, their life was often hard as it would have been in the UK (as for my orphaned grandfather), had they survived, and as it was in farming communities in Canada. The recognition you mention should include the good news stories, many in Ups and Downs, like the family I was told about who “got down on their knees to thank Dr Barnardo” for having saved the young immigrant from my home town in England whose father had died and mother was imprisoned for abusing and neglecting her children. But that’s an anecdote too!

Judy Neville said...

For every British Home Child there is a story. Let's not make this a what side of the scale your ancestor was on.
Let's go forward collecting, preserving and sharing their stories.
I have often said, We have to educate the educators.
Although some facts were wrong in the speach that MP Vandenbeld made. I applaud her for recognizing that September 28 was British Home Child Day in Ontario. For her to take her time to speak and focus at all on British Home Children is worthy of appreciation. Now this gives us an opportunity to thank her and CORRECT her facts.
I plan to do just that.
I have not and will not paint all British Home Children and those who took these children in with the same brush.
For every BHC there is a story. Let's collect, preserve and share.

Anonymous said...

You lost all credibility when the words " KoolAid brewed by embittered descendants of home child who experienced ill-treatment." was typed. That comment is ignorant, disgusting and absolutely despicable that someone who also works with BHC could utter such a thing. And to post this right after the dedication of the monument honoring the lives of those poor 75 children, which you know all about as you tweeted my CBC article complaining about that, is truly in very very poor taste. I can understand random people making comments, but one among us to publicly dishonor these children like this is beyond contemptible. I do not use my position with the BHC to slam work done by other groups and neither should you. Your tweet, hovered above the face of Charles Bradbury, who had his throat slashed, then burned to death in the barn and was blamed for his own death. Your comment was we should honor the positive side while totally disregarding that child's death and the death of the 74 other children we were commemorating. We do recognize the good work done by charities with these children. Our voices are stronger for those who suffered, simply because there were many more stories like that. I'm not engaging with you anymore. And neither should I have started. Your ignorant comment is just not worth it. I am not publishing under my name as I do not wish e-mails coming in to me from your blog. Best regards, Lori Oschefski.

JDR said...

Lori will have the last word published in this thread.