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Justin Trudeau petitioned to apologise for Canada’s past treatment of British child migrants | World News


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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is being petitioned to apologise to British child migrants who suffered “shame and isolation”.  

It is the latest move by campaigners demanding an official apology for the treatment endured by youngsters shipped to Canada in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The petition, initiated by the group Home Children Canada, states child migrants were subjected to abuse and stigmatisation, and that many died “ashamed of their history and deprived of their family”.

About 115,000 youngsters, so-called British Home Children, were shipped to Canada from the UK between 1869 and 1948.

Typically, they were used as cheap labour and put to work on farms or as domestic servants and many have told stories of overwork and mistreatment.

They were transferred from orphan homes in the UK but campaigners for the Home Children say that many were only temporary residents of the orphanages and had families who were unaware they made the trip to Canada.

Read more:
The forgotten legacy of British children sent to Canada

Now, those campaigners have submitted a petition calling on Justin Trudeau to follow the example of the UK and Australia in issuing a formal apology, something the Canadian government has resisted.

Presented to Canada’s House of Commons, the petition states: “Home children/child migrants were, as a result of the system, thrust into difficult and inappropriate personal living circumstances exacerbated by a belief that they were unwanted by parents and, as a result, denied access to siblings and/or other relatives.”

“We… call upon the prime minister to sincerely apologise to Home Children/child migrants who suffered in shame and isolation, to those who died while being ashamed of their history and deprived of their family, to elderly survivors burdened by their past, and to descendants grappling with the inter-generational impacts of a system that mistreated and separated their families.”

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Canada’s British ‘Home Children’

One of the last surviving British Home Children, George Beardshaw, supports the campaign for an apology.

In an interview with Sky News in September 2023, George, aged 100, said: “People thought that Britain was sending over some of the scum from off the streets of London, they all thought we were thieves.

“Some got pitchforks through them. Some slept in the barn with the cattle.”

The UK and Australian governments have issued official apologies for their parts in child migrant schemes.

In 2017, Canada’s House of Commons passed a motion of apology, but there has been none from the government itself.

In September 2023, Sky News asked Mr Trudeau if his government owed an apology to British Home Children. He didn’t address the question, saying only: “Good to see you.”

In response to the latest petition, the Canadian government told Sky News: “The government of Canada is committed to keeping the memory of the British Home Children alive so that we can all learn from past mistakes.

“As adopted by the House of Commons in February 2018, the government of Canada supports the designation of 28 September as British Home Child Day in order to raise awareness and ensure the recognition of the many contributions British Home Children have made to Canada.

“The government has supported a number of outreach, commemorative and educational initiatives to recognise the experience of the Home Children.

“These include the designation of the immigration experience of former Home Children as a national historic event; and the establishment of a commemorative plaque at the site of a former receiving home in Stratford, Ontario.”

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Written by: radioroxi

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