6 ways the Canadian Government Participated
in Trafficking in Persons- 3 British Home Children

5 Dec, 2020

Between 1869 and 1948 over 100,000 Children who were homeless, orphaned or surviving on the street were sent to Canada and sold across the country to work on farms or domestic work.

About  2/3s of the children were left in the orphanages by their parents who had full intentions of coming to get them once they were able to find steady employment.  Sadly, children were shipped away to Canada, and separated from their siblings to be sold before their parents could return.

Many farms here in Ontario benefitted substantially from the free labor of the children who were forced to work in return for food and shelter until their 18th birthday. Some Children were as young as 4 years old. Here in Niagara-on-the-Lake, “ Our Western Home” took in more than 4000 girls and “distributed them”(sold them) on farms and as indentured servants.  There was a  lack of follow up and accountability on those who took in the children and many of them were severely abused and  exploited. A street names Rye Street and Rye park was recognized in 2018 in Niagara-on-the-lake. After Maria Rye’s who ran Our Western Home. Literally there to celebrate the sale and exploitation of over 4000 young girls.

Many times, children were brought from Brittan to Canada via the church or faith based agencies such as the Salvation Army. Many children died due to the horrendous conditions they faced or at the hands of their “masters”.  Additionally, when children arrived to Canada they were treated terribly not only by the people they were sold to but by others in the community calling them dirty and disease ridden.

When I think about intergenerational trauma, I imagine that these horrendous incidents of human trafficking of children have left many generational wounds.  There has been no restitution from our government or even a formal apology as there has been in other countries.  

Not only does this example highlight yet another form of government exploitation and trafficking but the fact that right here in my own region there is a monument like this move was something to be proud of makes me sick. I only found out about British Home children when I read a novel last year called The Forgotten Home Child. I’ve included the link to the book as well as some of the websites that I was able to find some information from. This is our Canada.

Have you heard of the British Home children before reading this? Let me know in the comments! 
British Home Children | The Canadian Encyclopedia
The Forgotten Home Child | Book by Genevieve Graham | Official Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster Canada (simonandschuster.ca)
Story of Maria Rye, Our Western Home to be recognized (niagarathisweek.com)
History Spotlight: British Home Children – Canada’s History