The program was intended to take poor and orphaned children off the streets, feed and teach them a trade, and then send them to the British Colonies: mainly Australia, Canada, South Africa, Virginia, and New Zealand; where they could have a better life and a brighter future. The reality of the situation didn’t work out quite as well as planned.
Did you know?
- The British Home Children program operated in Canada between 1869 and 1948.
- Over the life of the program, approximately 100,000 children were sent to Canada.
- While the children sent to Canada were poor, not all were orphans.
- Some families would surrender their children to a home temporarily due to hard times, and later find that the child had been shipped to the colonies.
- While some children were adopted into loving homes, many others were viewed only as a source of free labour, essentially becoming indentured farm workers or domestic servants.
- Children in those situations could suffer neglect, abuse (both emotional and physical), and intense loneliness.
- Canada ceased accepting any Home Children under age 14 after three committed suicide in 1923 and 1924.
- However, Canada continued accepting older Home Children from the program until 1948.
- It is estimated that approximately 12% of all Canadians are descended from Home Children.
- After being raised in parliament a number of times, the Canadian House of Commons finally issued a formal apology to British Home Children on Feb 16, 2017