Patricia Skidmore began exploring the story of child migration to Canada in the late 1990s. She is the editor of the Fairbridge Gazette and lives in Port Moody, British Columbia.
Marjorie Too Afraid to Cry
When Marjorieâ€™s daughter began exploring archival records involving Britainâ€™s child-migration program, a home-child saga emerged.
Marjorie Arnison was one of the thousands of children removed from their families, communities, and country and placed in a British colony or commonwealth to provide "white stock" and cheap labour. In Marjorieâ€™s case,Â she was sent to Prince of Wales Fairbridge Farm School, just north of Victoria, British Columbia, in 1937. As a child, Patricia was angered that her mother wouldnâ€™t talk about the past. It took many years to discover why â€“ it wasnâ€™t because she was keeping a dark secret, but because she had "lost" her childhood.
For 10-year-old Marjorie, forgetting her past, her family, and England was the only survival tool she had at her disposal to enable her to face her frightening and uncertain future. This is Marjorieâ€™s account as told by her daughter. It is a story of fear, loss, courage, survival, and finding oneâ€™s way home.
Marjorie Too Afraid to Cry will make readers want to cry. After drying their tears, they may think about other questionable social engineering experiments (like the residential schools for native people) and about the big holes in our present-day social safety net. Let's hope that Skidmore's excellent book completes the restoration of Marjorie Arnison's spirit.
Letâ€™s hope that this book leads to a greater understanding of what it was like to be a home child â€” and that the understanding will make it easier for more people to come to terms with having a parent with, apparently, no past.