British Home Child Day on September 28

The snow has been coming down steadily since last evening and this morning there was a thick blanket.  It’s beautiful, but it is also a bit overwhelming as one anticipates the many months of darkness and cold.

The weekend, however, held many blessings.  I spent the past months contacting people, media and organizations about the importance of recognizing that on September 28th each year, we are to remember and recognize over 100,000 children who were brought to Canada to serve as indentured servants across the nation.  My great grandfather was one.  This year marks 150 years since the arrival of the first of these children.

Those who know me are familiar with my story, but I really did want to share the images of a special event that local descendants of BHC hosted at the Forest Lawn Public Library, yesterday afternoon.  It was a blessing to meet so many more descendants and to chat with them after the presentations and during the exhibition.

I really enjoy my friendships in this group, including Bruce, Hazel, Connie, Donna and Anna and really appreciate all of their hard work and their dedication.  I am also grateful to my daughter, Erin, who attended but who also dragged chairs around, assisting where she could and Kelly, Hazel’s daughter, for her wonderful support in loading, displaying and just generally being helpful and included.

Five descendants shared their family narrative with the large group of people who came out on a dreary bad-weather day.  Every generation was represented and questions were thoughtful and engaged the panel.  There was lots of time for socializing and connecting with one another.   A very special artifact for the group in Western Canada, of course, is the Memory Quilt that was lovingly constructed by Hazel.

As I drove home late in the afternoon, I felt grateful for the presentations and grateful for the people I worked with.

In the evening, I turned on my porch light, but unlike other nights, I took a moment to pause and think about the injustice that was perpetrated on so many innocents.  I hope to, over time, help in educating the public about this part of Canada’s history.

The Beacons of Light, in recognition of 150 years included the lighting of the Calgary Tower and last night’s lighting of Reconciliation Bridge.  Thanks to Bruce Skilling for his photograph of the bridge.

Photo Credit: Bruce Skilling

Photo Credit: Bruce Skilling

 

If you would like to be included in our contacts, have any questions at all or would like to suggest venues and activities, we’d love to hear from you.  You may contact me through this blog or through the e mail connected to this blog.  We also invite you to peruse our Facebook page, although our group is primarily made up of descendants living in the west.  We are most agreeable to helping you with your research questions.

Finally, I will try to post Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s remarks.

BHCGI British Home Child Group International 2019 (2)

Reconciliation Bridge lit up for the Sunflower, symbol for the BHC and Child Migrants Photo Credit: Bruce Skilling

Waiting for permission to use two other photographs of Beacons of Light.

Alberta Culture Days in Claresholm!

Donning my orange shirt, I got Max out for a quick walk on city sidewalks, dropped him home to a delicious breakfast (yeah, right?) and hopped in the car for a road trip to Claresholm, Alberta.  My friend-descendants of British Home Children were gathering for a display opportunity in the Claresholm Exhibition Hall and I really wanted to join them.  Yesterday was the first National British Home Child Day and I felt very pleased for the recognition and the remembrances that were shared yesterday by descendants who had grown up with mystery, secrets and shame around their ancestry.  I think that the disconnect from any roots at all is likely the most upsetting aspect of growing up in home child culture…very few children ever found solace in a relationship with siblings or Mom or Dad.  There was a helplessness there, a disconnect and a sense of true abandonment, often in powerlessness against abuse of all sorts.

In Canada, so many years later, families are hard at work, trying to unearth unspoken histories and share narratives that have been revealed via contact with the people who continue to house the files and reports on our ancestral family.  At a price and with great patience, piece by piece, we are all discovering who our people were, though most will discover that, at a point, the information will drop off.  Never did our ancestors show up on a Canadian census unless they were working as domestics in very wealthy homes.  I know that I have not found my great grandfather on any binding document between ages 13 and 21.  Those eight years are gone, although the families under which he was employed are well-documented in the foot prints of time.

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On a lighter note, I was so pleased to find Bruce and Connie, Hazel and John gathered before a beautiful display.  Hazel worked very hard to establish our representation at the open house and I have much gratitude for her efforts and her lovely display.  I appreciate that Bruce collected both Connie and John for the afternoon drive on such a cold and blustery day.  And I thank Bruce for the lovely addition to our Western Canadian collection, the poster featuring our new logo.  Excellent.

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Although I have other photographs of my four friends, I enjoy the fact that John Vallance’s true personality is showing through here and that Connie is taking it all in.  If any of you would like a more formal photograph for your files, just contact me.

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The woman who did the physical work here…and a visionary for BHC in the west, our Hazel Perrier.

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The program that the Claresholm museum hosted was fabulous!  I want to thank the town and its people who extended their hospitality.  I know that it was a cold and grey day, but the events and the people created a warm and happy experience for all in attendance.  I really enjoyed the sincere presentation/words and hoop dance performed by Sandra Lamouche. Due to lighting, very few of my photographs give justice to her performance and I hope that my readers will take a look at her website.

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At a point, Bruce, Connie and I went for a cup of tea in a neighbouring restaurant and we enjoyed a very yummy lunch.  It was nice to catch up with Bruce and Connie.  They are great people and I am so happy that they are in my life, with a common interest of family research and history.  I also had the opportunity to wander both the exhibition hall and the museum.  There is nothing like a focused wander through a museum, especially one with an RCAF display!  I enjoyed conversations with two ‘hookers’ who produce amazing works in the tradition of East Coast hooking and a lady who descends from family in Norway.  Very interesting stories and generous contributions!

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When I pulled out of my parking spot to head home at 4:30, I could still hear the ringing of beautiful music coming out of the concert tent.  Today was a perfect day and I’m grateful for the opportunity to enjoy another Alberta Culture Day.

Remember…please…Leave NO CHILD BEHIND!

Hazel, John, Kath, Bruce, Connie