Home Child

Home Child - Barbara Haworth-Attard A part of Canadian history that is often forgotten, the Home Children were young Britishers, some of them orphans, but most from impoverished families, who were sent en masse to Canada, where they were, for all purposes, sold as indentured servants to Canadian families. Similar programs existed in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. Although the Australian and British governments have tendered official apologies, Canada has made the supremely classy move of stating that no apology will be forthcoming, despite the fact that there are an estimated 4 million descendants of Home Children currently living here (that's 1 in 9 Canadians). Haworth-Attard, with her usual skill, brings large concepts down to a scale that young kids can understand. In Home Child, we have the story of one family on a farm outside London, Ontario who decided to "adopt" a Home Child to help with the chores after their fourth child turns out to be another girl. The story is told by the second of the four daughters, Sadie Wilson. She is bewildered that Arthur is not allowed to eat at the table with the family, unlike the day labourers. She's fascinated by his accent and the fact that he actually likes school. Despite her mother's insistence that Arthur is not a proper companion, Sadie begins to form a secret friendship with him. But then, things start to go missing around the house. First money, then Mr. Wilson's beloved watch. Mrs. Wilson thinks the "ungrateful" Arthur is planning to run away. Sadie doesn't know what to believe. Short but touching, Haworth-Attard's simple story helps to shed some light on a piece of Canadian history that has too often been hidden away.