Gibbs Home lights up for the British Home Children

By Taylor McClure in collaboration with Actions Interculturelles

Monday, Sept. 28 marked British Home Child Day in Canada and the 151st anniversary of the arrival of the first ship of British Home Children (BHC) to the country under Maria Rye.
While COVID-19 put a halt on many of the celebrations and events that usually take place across the country in honour of the BHC and their descendants, Actions Interculturelles, an organization in Sherbrooke that supports cultural diversity and immigration to the Estrie region, decided to go ahead with a planned event in social distancing style.
For the last few months, we have been working on a research project on the BHC migration scheme and its close ties to the Eastern Townships. With a series of articles recently published in The Record, our goal was to highlight the importance of cultural diversity and immigration and its contributions to the building of not only this region, but the entire country.
We also wanted people to become more interested in tracking back their family history and realize that it is not impossible to accomplish. “Our desire is to support this energy of young people who want to better understand not only the history of their family but the strengths of an entire region that come from a long heritage,” said Mohamed Soulami, Director of d’Actions Interculturelles.
The project was finally presented to a handful of employees of the organization and to Joel Barter of the Bury Historical Society, who was there to represent Susan Hall on behalf of the British Home Children Advocacy and Research Association. The presentation tool place during a small ceremony at the Gibbs Home, one of three homes in the Townships that received BHC and placed them with families in the area, on Monday evening.
The project was introduced by Louise Gagné, President of the Board of Directors, and as the person who spearheaded the research for the project, I was provided with the opportunity to present my discoveries on the subject of the BHC and my own family history. My great grandfather, Charles Edward McClure, was a BHC sent to Canada in 1914 at the age of 12.
While a heartfelt ceremony, those in attendance wondered what other projects could be implemented in the community to continue to give this story the recognition that it deserves and to help others tracks back their family roots.
With an estimated 10 per cent of the Canadian population being descendants of a British Home Child, it is clear this story holds a significant, and very special, place in our Canadian history.
The Gibbs Home was lit up at the end of the evening with the colors of red, white, and blue, the colors of the British flag, in their honour.

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