Well, the stats are in! My blog had a respectable 8,400 hits in 2012 and it appears that of the five most popular blog posts in 2012, four of them were about the British Home Children. It confirms my belief that there’s a deep hunger out there amongst descendants to learn about their ancestors’ stories. There are an estimated four million descendants of the 100,000 British Home Children sent to Canada by various agencies. That’s 1 in 8 Canadians. So it’s not surprising the interest is exploding.
The interest seems to have skipped a generation—the one closest to the child immigrants themselves, who were often shamed by Canadians for being British “gutter trash.” This kind of deep shaming persists across generations. Witness how many of these people went to their graves without ever sharing their stories. My grandfather was one of these—as I’ve written before, he was truly ‘The Man Without Stories’ because unlike most grandparents, he never talked about his experiences—not to his sons nor his grandchildren.
But now the grandchildren’s generation is waking up to the story and they are anxious to know. No history can be repressed forever, it seems! I’m fond of quoting William Faulkner’s dictum: “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.” It lives on in each one of us through our ancestors. That legacy brings both positives and negatives. It’s been shown that the effects of trauma in previous generations can persist in descendants, surfacing as anxiety disorders, depression, alcoholism, etc.
As Home Child descendant Perry Snow points out, identity is central to who we are as human beings. And central to identity is family—our point(s) of origin. When that is suppressed, the result is psychological dysfunction. Left unaddressed, this will persist. To fully make peace with our past, we need to first bring it into the present by knowing the story and then ‘owning’ it. For many this is difficult: it’s far easier to ignore aspects of our own history that may not be pleasant. But ignoring it will not make it go away, only postpone the effects to another generation.
So in the New Year let’s resolve to do all we can to honour the stories of these often forgotten ancestors. They are calling out to us. As many First Nations elders will tell you, the ancestral realm is very real and their spirits are there to help us.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,400 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 14 years to get that many views.