British Home Child Day being marked in sesquicentennial international tribute

Opinion

To the Editor:

From 1869 right up to 1948, over 100,000 children of all ages were emigrated right across Canada, from the United Kingdom, to be used as indentured farm workers and domestics. Believed by Canadians to be orphans, only two percent truly were.

These children, known as the British Home Children (BHC) and Child Migrants, were sent to Canada by over 50 organizations including the well-known and still working charities: Barnardo’s, The Salvation Army, Quarrier’s and Fairbridge, to name a few. BHC are an integral part of the fabric of our nation — often, rightfully, called Canada’s Nation Builders. Their vast contributions to our country should never be forgotten.

Descendants of BHC, number in the millions in Canada alone!

The British Home Children Advocacy and Research Association (BHCARA) is a Canadian based not for profit organization dedicated to the story of Canada’s British Home Children (BHC). Founded in 2012 by Barrie, Ontario’s Lori Oschefski, the BHCARA now reaches thousands of people through their Facebook group of over 6,700 members and their mailing list of over 4,000 subscribers. Our website now has over 1 million hits and we have a high media presence.

The mandate of the organization is to promote the story of the British Home Children, to advocate for those who no longer have a voice and to provide free research help to those seeking their family histories; often providing closure from painful pasts.

On November 8, 1869 the very first party of BHC arrived in Canada, making 2019 the 150th anniversary of this arrival.

The date of September 28 has been chosen for a special international tribute as this date is commemorated nationally as British Home Child Day in Canada; a unanimous passage of MP Guy Lauzon’s private member’s motion M-133 in the House of Commons, Feb. 7, 2018. This initiative for this tribute started when BHCARA member Kim Crowder approached Ms Oschefski for support in the illumination of the High Level Bridge in her city of Edmonton, Alberta.

Since then, many members have become involved reaching out in their communities for support. BHCARA member Tracy Smithers contacted Her Majesty the Queen and received a prompt letter of support back from her!

The BHCARA is asking communities to participate in the “Beacons of Light for British Home Children and Child Migrants Tribute” by illuminating memorials, monuments, buildings, city halls or other areas with the colours of the BHCARA; red, white and blue. Cities and towns are also participating by proclaiming this day as “British Home Child Day” in their community. Some city’s are sharing this message on their digital billboards.

The tribute is a symbolic gesture showing these children, in their sesquicentennial year, are not forgotten. Many Canadian and UK cities have agreed to participate with over 65 supporters to date, including the iconic Niagara Falls, Toronto’s CN Tower, The Northern Lights Display in Vancouver and St. Andrews House — Head Quarters of the Scottish Government in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Town of Midland and Orillia are participating by proclaiming September 28 as BHC Day in their cities. A full listing of our supporters can be viewed at www.britishhomechildren.com.

The BHC are a critical part of our nations fabric, this country was built on the backs of these children.

Lori Oschefski

CEO BHCARA