OTTAWA – All-party support played a critical role in setting a national day of recognition for British Home Children.

Parliament Hill was the scene Wed., Feb. 7 as Stormont, Dundas, and South Glengarry MP Guy Lauzon’s succeeded in having his private member’s bill recognized by politicians on both sides of the House of Commons.

It is perhaps the greatest achievement of home child supporters, including many who make their home in the region. From around the time of Canada’s Confederation to the end of the Second World War, more than 100,000 British children were sent to live in Canada, either as orphans or separated from their families. Most endured continued hardship, be it psychological trauma due to life in a new land or abuse, and a life forced into labour.

Countless area residents have been vocal in their support of the cause, perhaps none more notably than Finch’s Judy Neville and former MPP Jim Brownell, both of them descendants of Mary Scott Pearson.

Pictured Wed., Feb. 7 alongside Stormont, Dundas, and South Glengarry MP Guy Lauzon are Wendy Pitblado (left), Charlene Widrick, Tom Brownell, Eleanor McGrath, Linda Bell, Anneke Debeuin, Jennifer DeBruin, and Larry Bell. The group was on Parliament Hill that day to hear that British Home Child Day will be nationally recognized every September. Courtesy photo

“I could not be more pleased with the fact Sept. 28, British Home Child Day, is now a national day of recognition,” Neville told the Winchester Press. “As president of the Ontario East British Home Child Family and on their behalf and on behalf of the more than 100,000 home children sent to Canada, thanks to MP Lauzon and his House of Commons colleagues does not seem enough.”

While the recognition is acknowledged, she insisted the group’s work is not done.

“I can say we will continue to collect, preserve, and share the stories of this almost eight decades in our Canadian history. With the passing of this bill it is our hope that other groups will form across Canada to celebrate each Sept. 28, and to ensure the history of the British Home Child is woven into your Canadian History,” Neville added.

Brownell, who also happens to be Neville’s brother, was equally enthused. It’s especially prescient given that he was successful with a similar bill in Ontario’s legislature in 2011.

“It has always been my belief that the determination, perseverance, and accomplishments of our British Home Child ancestors should be recognized and celebrated, as their stories and voices were not heard in the past,” Brownell said. “Now, on the national stage, through the recent motion, the untold stories have now been recognized Canada-wide. This is something to celebrate.”