Final debate on federal British Home Child Day set for Feb. 1; vote on Feb. 7

Judy Neville, a member of the Ontario East British Home Child Family group (left) looks on as MP Guy Lauzon speaks at the unveiling of 'British Home Child Lane' in South Dundas, in October 2016. Children portraying newly arrived British Home Children sit in front. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

CORNWALL — British Home Child Day draws closer to Canada-wide status as parliamentarians hold a second and final hour of debate on the idea, Feb. 1, followed by a vote tentatively scheduled for Feb. 7.

“Until recent years, very few Canadians knew about British Home Children,” said local MP Guy Lauzon, introducer of  the motion up for debate. “Their stories of hardship, courage, determination and perseverance, were not part of Canadian history books, nor were they mentioned by most of Canada’s home children. My hope is that this motion will be part of a greater movement that will preserve the legacy of the Home Children for generations to come.”

If Motion M-133 is approved, the federal government would extend recognition for this country’s young ‘Home Child’ immigrants in a way similar to Ontario, which sets aside September 28 as British Home Child Day provincially. Former MPP Jim Brownell, within the same electoral district as Lauzon, successfully spearheaded the Ontario-only initiative several years ago.

Ottawa’s final hour of debate starts at 5:30 p.m. in the House of Commons.

MPs from all three major parties spoke favourably of the Motion during the first hour of debate in November. Many highlighted the various contributions made to Canadian society by British Home Children, recounting personal stories from constituents connected to the estimated 130,000 impoverished or orphaned children who were shipped off to Canada from England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland between 1869 and 1949.

Before the final debate begins, Lauzon will host a screening of the documentary Forgotten by local filmmaker Eleanor McGrath. The film explores the largely unknown history of Canada’s British Home Child migration movement and the profound effect this chapter of our country’s story has had on thousands of Canadian families.

The final House of Commons debate on the British Home Child Day motion is set for the evening of Feb. 1. Zandbergen photo