Year of the British Home Child Reception

It was an evening at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa shared with many people with a common bond. Somewhere in their ancestry was a British Home Child. For some, it was a recent ancestor – a mother or father (in my case my father) – but many were further back in the family tree.

MP Phil McColeman who performed the opening and closing ceremonies – his uncle was a Home Child. The keynote speaker, Senator Gerry St Germain, had a Home Child in his family tree, too. In his case it was his maternal grandfather.

After Senator St Germain spoke, the postage stamp commemorating Home Children was unveiled by Douglas Jones, Senior VP of Operations at Canada Post. And guess what? He had a Home Child in his family, as well.

The film Childhood Lost: The Story of Canada’s Home Children was screened by the roughly 200 attendees. What an emotional roller coaster that was to watch. I felt myself get weepy many times throughout the viewing.

We even had a Home Child in attendance – Syd Baker (who identified himself as such) anyway when Phil McColeman finished his closing remarks, Syd took over the microphone very briefly. He said his was a very long, long story but he did reveal he grew up at Barnardo’s. He didn’t come with a party of children but later in life as a married man and it wasn’t until he was in his 60s that he found his siblings.

Afterwards, it was a chance to mingle with the attendees and meet up with old friends, visit with other family members before finally calling it an evening.

Melanie & Don in front of the large Home Children story boardThis is my husband and me posing in front of the large storyboard set up outside the auditorium where the ceremony and film screening took place. On the floor behind us encased in a clear, protective Lexan cube was a Home Child’s trunk┬á along with a small Bible on its lid.

We scrub up pretty good… at least I think so.

6 thoughts on “Year of the British Home Child Reception”

  1. Thank you Melanie for the update on last evenings festivities. I am so happy to hear that the experiences of our relatives are being celebrated. Wouldn’t Nan Parratt be proud.

  2. Some Corrections:

    Phil McColeman’s uncle was the Home Child.
    Syd Baker is not a Home Child. Although he did live at Barnardo’s in England, he immigrated to BC as a married man. Much much later in his life he found his siblings back in England.

  3. I thought they did a splendid job presenting the stamp. I think there should be more in the media about the British Home Children – at least in 2010 the year of the Home Child.

  4. That’s really amazing experience to see your relatives after so many years and celebrating your relatives is just like keeping them alive in your thoughts and to let your siblings know of your ancestors. Thanks Mel, for all this information !

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