Parliament BHC Apology Petitions - Their Progress
In May of 2012 Lori Oschefski launched the very first official petition calling on the Canadian Government to formally appologize to the British Home Children. Carefully chosen to present these petitions was The Honourable Judy A. Sgro, a former Immigration Minister herself. In 2012, Ms. Oschefski also started an online petition calling on the Immigration Minister Chris Alexander to help descendants in obtaining their records. This petiton drew 1,800 signatures. It can be viewed on the Change.org website - although it is now closed for signing.
Judy Sgro was suggested by BHCARA member, Noreen Doherty-McMIllan. Noreen made the first contact with Mrs. Sgro's office. This office was chosen, not only because of her work, but also because Greg McClinchey, whom we mostly work with in the office, his wife and children are British Home Child descendants. Noreen knew this and when choosing which MP to work with this was an important element to consider.
Formally organized in late 2012, the British Home Children Advocacy & Research Association continued the work with the petitions under the new organizations umbrella. In mid 2015, a new group also started presenting petitions. Combined, these petitions are making our voices heard in the House of Commons.
To download a copy of the Apology Petition for gathering signatures please visit British Home Children in Canada, The petiton is available in both English and French. Once signatures are gathered, there are two options:
Forward to the BHCARA in care of Lori Oschefski, 59 Blair Crescent, Barrie, Ontario, L4M 5Y4
Forward to your MP for reading in the House of Commons. If this option is chosen, please keep us informed so we can track your reading.
February 12, 2013 - Judy Sgro
Our first reading in the House of Commons by The Honourable Judy A Sgro, Humber River - Black Creek.
March 20th, 2013 The Honourable Judy A. Sgro - House of Commons
October 30th, 2013 - Judy Sgro - House of Commons
May 12th, 2014 - Judy Sgro - House of Commons
February 19th, 2015 - Motion tabled by Alex Atamanenko, MP for BC Southern Interior. Contact initiated with Mr. Atamanenko's office - Sean Art Joyce. House of Commons
Note: Mr. Atamanenko presented one of our petitions shortly before retiring. MP Richard Cannings reintroduced the motion in May of 2016. Text of Alex Atamanenko presenting in the House of Commons, February 19, 2015: That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) issue a formal, unequivocal and sincere apology to Canada’s British Home Children and child migrants, including their families and descendants, for the injustices suffered as a result of its participation in migration schemes between the years 1869 and 1948 thereby enabling the importation of an estimated 100 000 orphaned or destitute children from Britain to provide indentured labour for Canadian farms and households; (b) express its gratitude and appreciation to the families whose ancestors were responsible for building up Canada's agricultural industry at a critical early point in its development; (c) assist in a coordinated effort with survivors and descendants to track and record their genealogies and ensure that reunification with lost family members is made possible; and (d) take steps to ensure that all Canadians are informed about this important period of history in a way that makes certain it is never forgotten by present or future generations.
March 24th, 2015 - Judy Sgro - House of Commons
June 2nd, 2015 - Judy Sgro - House of Commons
May 2016 - Motion Tabled by Richard Cannings, MP South Okanagan - West Kootenay - reintroduced in the House of Commons
Motion M-51 calls on the federal government to apologize to Canada’s British home children, their families and descendants. From the late 1860s to 1939, approximately 100,000 children were sent from the United Kingdom to Canada to be used as indentured farm workers and domestics. Text & article excerpts of Richard Cannings presenting in the House of Commons, May 5, 2016:
Today Richard Cannings, MP (South Okanagan – West Kootenay) announced that he has tabled his first three pieces of Private Members Legislation in the House of Commons. Cannings tabled Motion M-50, which calls on the Federal government to establish a Department of Peace; Motion M-51, which calls on the Federal government to apologize to Canada’s British Home Children, along with their families and descendants; and Motion M-52, which calls on the government to introduce mandatory labeling of food products containing ingredients that have been genetically modified. Motions M-50 and M-51 were introduced in previous Parliaments by Mr. Cannings’ predecessor Alex Atamanenko.
“I am happy to introduce both of these important motions, motions that residents across South Okanagan — West Kootenay have told me they supported in the past and wished to see brought forward again,” said Cannings. “I want to thank Alex Atamanenko for his past work and advocacy on these important initiatives. I’m proud to continue to the work on these issues and call on the government to give them serious consideration.”
“Motion M-51 calls on the Federal government to apologize to Canada’s British Home Children, their families and descendants. From the late 1860s to 1939, approximately 100,000 children were sent from the United Kingdom to Canada to be used as indentured farm workers and domestics. Believed by Canadians to be orphans, approximately only two percent actually were. In 2009, the Government of Australia formally apologized for their involvement and in 2010, the Government of the United Kingdom also formally apologized. In November 2009, then Immigration Minister Jason Kenney refused to consider an apology, stating “Canadians don't expect their government to apologize for every sad event in our history.”http://richardcannings.ndp.ca/cannings-tables-first-pieces-of-private-members-legislation
July 28th, 2016
Electronic Petiton e-257 - closed with 995 signatures
Sept 23th, 2016 - Richard Cannings, House of Commons
MP (South Okanagan - West Kootenay)
September 28th, 2016 - Member's Statement
Alaina Lockhart, MP Fundy Royal - House of Commons
October 17th 2016 - MP Richard Cannings
October 25, 2016 - House of Commons, E-Petition e527 presented with 995 signature.
November 28th 2016
Electronic Petition e-312 (Immigration)
Closed with 538 signatures, Read in the House of Commons with a Goverment response
Petition packages mailed to Richard Cannings and Judy Sgro November of 2016.
Readings in the House of Commons
Britian and Australia Apologize
BHC John Vallance, Calgary, Alberta signs our very first Apology Petition in 2012
Members of the public signing at one of our many events
England's apology February 2010
"No need for Canada to apologize for abuse and exploitation suffered by thousands of poor children shipped here from Britain starting in the 19th century", Immigration Minister Jason Kenney
Motion passed containing an apology
The following motion was moved and adopted in the House of Commons on Thursday Feb 16 2017. The House offered an apology to the BHC.
Mr. Luc Theriault (Montcalm, BQ): "Mr. Speaker, I ask for the consent of the House to adopt the following motion, with the support of the MP from Humber River--Black Creek [Judy Sgro], the MP from Chilliwack--Hope [Mark Strahl], the MP for Vancouver East [Jenny Kwan] and the MP from Saanich--Gulf Islands [Elizabeth May]:
"That the House recognize the injustice, abuse and suffering endured by the British Home Children as well as the efforts, participation and contribution of these children and their descendants within our communities; and offer its sincere apology to the former British Home Children who are still living and to the descendants of these 100,000 individuals who were shipped from Great Britain to Canada between 1869 and 1948, and torn from their families to serve mainly as cheap labour once they arrived in Canada."
House of Commons apology given see below
for phase 2
Sean Arthur Joyce, author of Laying the Children's Ghosts to Rest writes about the House of Commons apology
Gilles Duceppe tells about the roll he played in the recent House of Commons apology:
Mr. Duceppe, on behalf of our BHC and descendants, a big thank you!!
In early 2016 the BHCARA sent letters to all Liberal MP's asking for their support in our call for an apology and recognition for our BHC in the schools. The letters were both e-mailed and hard copy sent through regular mail. Many of our members also sent letters to their local MP's in support.
What happens now
Our work is by no means complete. There are very few British Home Children left in Canada. They are all aged, and what an achievement it would be for them to hear an official apology from our Prime Minister, in the same vein as those, most graciously and publicly offered by the British and Australian Prime Ministers, before they leave this World, after many years of contribution to Canadian society. Anyone with a beating heart, and who knows the background of the British Home Child migration scheme, would acknowledge that an apology from our PM is not only warranted but is morally essential. Additionally, we would like the contribution made by the thousands of British Home Children to the First and Second World wars, to be recognised by Veterans Canada and more to be done to educate our youth about the British Home Children and their contribution to the history of Canada in the pioneer era and later. Finally it would be a fitting tribute for the British Home Child day, September 28th in Ontario and Nova Scotia, to be recognised across Canada as British Home Child Day.
Richard Cannings, House of Commons
MP (South Okanagan - West Kootenay)
March 9th 2017
First printing of the Open Letter with 600 signatures and 23 pages of comments mailed to the Office of the Prime Minister.