Monday, 22 May 2017

Not Just British Orphans

A friend of mine won't buy from the Bernardo's charity shops because, early in its history, the children's charity was one of the organizations that sent poor British children to farms in Australia and Canada, where they were treated as slaves. Literal slaves.

"White slavery" used to be a euphemism for prostitution, but throughout history white people have suffered literal slavery. I'm not even talking about the Russian serfs. I'm talking about the people the history books called "indentured servants." Indentured servitude meant working for someone else exclusively, without pay, until a debt was paid off. Or it meant being a little British kid sent to the Colonies to work on a farm, or in a kitchen, often neglected and often abused.

Anne of Green Gables, set in late 19th century Prince Edward Island, is full of examples. (Look for references to "Home child" or "Home children".) Anne herself was adopted into slavery when she was a very small girl, and when Marilla and Matthew applied for a boy, it was not because they wanted a child to liven up their lives: they wanted an 11 year old farm hand.

I once met a former slave--or indentured servant, to be less dramatic. His "employer" had brought him and his mother from Austria after the end of the Second World War and set them to work. The idea was that they were paying him back for bringing them to Canada.

Anyway, here's the staggering story of a slave brought to the USA from the Philippines by the Filipino family who "owned" her. God only knows how many slaves are currently living in Canada, the USA and the UK, and how many former slaves, born in Britain, are still living with sad memories of hard work, neglect and abuse.

1 comment:

  1. I think British children were still being sent to Australia under such schemes as late as the early 1970s. There's an Australian film about that called 'Oranges and Sunshine'.