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Champion of British Home Children to bring her story to Sarnia

Sandra Joyce, with personal connection to issue will speak at event Tuesday evening

Sandra Joyce, a Toronto writer known for helping to facilitate an official apology for the actions of the British government in sending more than 100,000 children to Canada, is taking her story to Sarnia Tuesday evening, when she will speak to the monthly meeting of the Sarnia Historical Society at the Sarnia Library Theatre. The free presentation begins at 7:30 p.m.

Joyce, a published author, has become a well-known advocate on the issue since she realized her own family connection in 2004.

The British Home Children scheme, which was initially motivated by social and economic forces, saw churches and philanthropic organizations sending orphaned, abandoned and pauper children to Canada and other Commonwealth countries between 1869 and 1932.

While many believed that the children would have a better chance for a healthy, moral life in rural Canada, families here often welcomed them as a source of cheap farm labour and domestic help.

Unfortunately, as Joyce found when she discovered her own father and uncle were sent to Canada from Scotland in 1925, the scheme often resulted in families being separated.

“My father was just 15 when he arrived in Canada,” said Joyce. “I thought he was an adult but being so wrong explains why he was a quiet, reserved man who had difficulty with emotional connections.”

The program also resulted in children facing malnourishment.

Since bringing the issue to the forefront through her book, “The Street Arab,” Joyce has spoken with numerous descendants of the British Home Children era.

She her self was instrumental in securing an official apology to British Home Children in the House of Commons, which was issued on February 16, 2017.

Joyce said she regrets that her father didn’t have the opportunity to tell his story. She hopes to pass on what her father “was too ashamed” to reveal about his experience.

“When you look at a group that large, it has an effect on the development of a country,” she said. “It would have helped as a family to be able to talk about it. It’s a Canadian story that should be taught. We all need to know about our heritage and it doesn’t matter if you’re directly connected or not.”

Joyce found about her father’s experience by typing in his name into a database at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax, N.S. That was in 2004, two years after her father had died.

More information on the issue is available at http://britishhomechild.com/.

3 thoughts on “Champion of British Home Children to bring her story to Sarnia

  1. Thank you for your efforts. I discovered my mother and aunt came to Canada at ages 9 and 12 through Dr. Barnardo’s charity and suffered greatly as a result of poor nutrition and more importantly lack of love and nurturing. Their experiences were never spoken about but upon receiving documentation from the Barnardo Charity in London I learned the reasons for their reluctance to reveal their early days. So sad….however both my mother and aunt overcame their difficulties and we’re loving mothers in the end.

  2. Hi Sandra Joyce, I would like to read your father’s story very much.
    I wrote a book about my father called The Harsh Prairie 1913-1942.
    Have you written a book that I could buy?

    Georgiaday Hall

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