Leslieville author Sandra Joyce speaks about British Home Children
Leslieville resident is the co-founder, vice-president of British Home Child Group International
By Joanna Lavoie
Leslieville resident and author Sandra Joyce will be speaking about British Home Children in Canada on Tuesday, March 21.
Presented by the Beach and East Toronto Historical Society, the free talk titled “The Lost and Found — British Home Children in Canada” will run from 7 to 8:15 p.m. at the Beaches library, 2161 Queen St. E. at Lee Avenue.
Joyce, whose father and uncle were sent over to Canada from Great Britain in 1925 to work as indentured servants, speaks often about this topic.
Eager to learn more about her family’s history and wanting to right the wrongs that were done to her relatives, she co-founded of British Home Child Group International and currently serves as its vice-president.
Among other things, Joyce’s group has been working alongside a number of similar organizations to obtain an official apology from the federal government for its role in bringing more than 100,000 children from Great Britain to Canada between 1869 and 1948 to serve mainly as cheap labour. It is estimated that descendants of British Home Children currently make up 10 to 12 per cent of Canada’s population.
Former Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe, a descendant of a British Home Child, has also recently taken up the effort to obtain an official apology from the Canadian government.
Last year, he contacted Joyce to meet as she was doing a talk about British Home Children at Montreal’s Atwater Library. Duceppe had only recently learned that he was a descendant of a British Home Child.
“I think it stayed with Mr. Duceppe because he had lived with his grandfather for 10 years. Finding out this information helped him connect the dots,” she said during a recent interview.
Last month, Duceppe once again contacted Joyce as a motion for an official apology from the federal government was once again tabled.
On Feb. 16, the House of Commons unanimously passed Montcalm MP Luc Thériault’s motion. Humber River-Black Creek MP Judy Sgro along with Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl, Vancouver East MP Jenny Kwan, and Saanich-Gulf Island MP Elizabeth May supported the motion, which recognized the injustice, abuse, and suffering endured by British Home Children as well as the efforts, participation, and contribution of these children and their descendants in Canada.
“I was speechless,” Joyce said during a recent interview.
“We were very thankful that it was passed because we got the recognition we were looking for. It’s not about compensation, but an apology. It’s been quite a journey, I have to say.”
Motions for Canada to issue an apology were tabled on four previous occasions.