OI GORDON - WHAT ABOUT CANADA'S HOME CHILDREN?
The campaign to win an apology for the thousands of "home children" exported from Britain to lives of forced labour in Australia has enjoyed considerable success - but as we've noted before, the kids shipped off to Canada still remain largely ignored. Here's campaigner John Willoughby's passonate letter sent last month to Gordon Brown.
The Canadian Centre for Home Children, through the efforts of volunteers in Canada and Britain, has been working for almost 20 years to help Canada's home children locate relatives in the UK. Repeated pleas for assistance to governments have to this day been left wanting.
Now, Australia has apologized and Britain will - but there is a third partner from these child immigration schemes - CANADA! Some 100,000 children were sent from Britain and accepted by Canada. Where does the responsibility for these children lie - is it with Britain, or the sending agencies who supplied the children, or Canada? Or all three?
Let's go back in history to the turn of the 20th century. After the child immigration program with Canada had been operating for about 4 years, the British government sent lawyer Andrew Doyle to Canada to find out how the program was working and to report back to government. Mr. Doyle visited several provinces and toured widely in the province of Ontario, where the majority of the children were settled.
Mr. Doyle did his job well - he told the British government that the situation in Canada was very bad; the children were suffering many horrible abuses and said that the program should be stopped. It was stopped.
But Canada was in fierce competition with the United States for immigrants; immigrants did not want to live in Canada's cold climate, they were opting for the warmer shores of the southern US.
So, Canada sent Sir Charles Tupper and a delegation to Britain to plea for the child immigration program to be re-instated. It was. But what were the real terms agreed to for the re-establishment of this program? Who was to take responsibility for the care of these children?
What about the placement centers in Canada where these children were held; what about the officials who lied to them about their relatives in the UK; what about those in 'authority' who did not believe what the children told them as to how they were being treated; what about the missing and deceased children? Any of these issues ever been addressed?
Many of these children were abducted - can you imagine? Is this not kidnapping on a massive scale? In a recent Canadian Press article -" many were abused physically and mentally or put to work as child labourers. " Some studies suggest that more than two-thirds were "abused by their patrons in Canada."
ALL THOSE INVOLVED KNEW WHAT WAS HAPPENING - WHY HAS THEIR COMPLIANCE BEEN DENIED AND COVERED UP FOR ALL THESE YEARS?WHAT IS IT BETWEEN CANADA AND BRITAIN THAT MUST BE KEPT QUIET? AND WHY HAS CANADA BEEN DISRESPECTED IN THIS REGARD ALL THIS TIME?
Britain is such a compassionate country...from the mid-1940s and for another dozen or so years, Britain welcomed some 50,000 refugees from eastern Europe through the front door with open arms, while quietly shipping out their own children through the back door.
Prime Minister, you will receive some child migrants from Australia at his 10 Downing Street residence - any home children from Canada been invited? Why not?
It has taken 10 years since an inquiry was held in Australia, to reach this result for their child migrants; 11 years have passed since a similiar inquiry was held in Britain. The Canadian Centre for Home Children was represented at the hearings in London and submitted a report to the inquiring committee. The Labour Party cannot deny that we exist - the British people have not forgotten us, only the politicans have!
All the Canadian home children have ever asked for was help in locating their families in the UK. Australia is now giving large amounts of money to do just that, as well as a travel fund for child migrants to visit their homeland.
A lot of questions have been put forward here - Canada's home children community is still waiting for answers. Will you and the other players,yes, including the sending agencies involved, provide these answers? Haven't we waited long enough?
IT IS TIME FOR OUR HOME CHILDREN, PRIME MINISTER BROWN, WILL YOU HELP US? ITS CANADA'S TURN FOR JUSTICE.
John Willoughby, Canadian Centre for Home Children
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