Mark your calendar for this special event happening at the Kitimat Snowflake Senior Centre.
Workshop and Reading by Visiting Author: Patricia Skidmore
October 19, 2018
from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
at the Kitimat Snowflake Senior Centre
658 Columbia Ave, Kitimat BC V8C 1V5
For more information contact:
Amelia Pozsgay, Senior’s Programmer
Her family broken apart and her identity taken away, she had to forget her past in order to face her future. But forgetting isn’t forever.
Taken from their mother’s care and deported from England to the colonies, Marjorie Arnison and her nine-year-old brother, Kenny, were sent to the Prince of Wales Fairbridge Farm School on Vancouver Island in September 1937. Their eight-year-old sister, Audrey, followed the next August.
Marjorie’s new home was an isolated farm, in a cottage with at least ten other girls, with a “cottage mother” at the head. Cottage mothers had complete control over their “children” like Marjorie.
Survival meant sticking to bare essentials, and that meant accepting a loss Marjorie found hard to forgive. Turning inward, she would find strength that pulled her through, but she had to lock away her memories in order to endure her new life.
Marjorie was well into her senior years before those memories resurfaced.
“I started a degree at the University of Victoria in 1969, but I became side-tracked, and it wasn’t until my two older sons graduated that I decided it was time for me to finish what I started – so in 1996, I returned to Victoria and I re-applied to the University of Victoria. I completed my degree in 2000, with 20 months of Co-op work experience.
I majored in Women’s Studies, which opened up a new and exciting direction in my life. The course work was predominantly writing based, which increased my confidence as a writer, and there was room for family research, which led me to further explore British Child Migration in an academic setting. I was introduced to both the University and to the B.C. Archives, which opened up a new world, without which I may not have had success in finding my mother’s hidden past.
Armed with new skills and with new knowledge, I was able to find many of the missing pieces of my mother Marjorie’s lost childhood, by accessing the archives across Canada and in the UK.
As I collected pieces of my mother’s buried and shattered past, I inadvertently collected various bits and pieces of the 350-year history of British Child Migration to the colonies, previously unknown to me. At one point I realized that this was a much bigger story than just my mother’s experience at being deported to the colonies in 1937. As I gathered more of its history, it occurred to me that if I knew so little about British Child Migration to Canada and my family was directly involved, then what are the chances that
other Canadians would also not know about this history?
Marjorie: Too Afraid to Cry, (Toronto: Dundurn, 2012/2013) was the result of my initial research which tells of my mother, Marjorie’s 1937 journey to Canada and her return to England in 2010 to hear Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Apology. Marjorie: Her War Years, scheduled for publication by Dundurn in July/August 2018, is the sequel to my mother Marjorie’s child migration story and follows her day-to-day life at the Prince of Wales Fairbridge Farm School, located near Cowichan Station, on Vancouver Island. It ends when she is placed out in a private home as a domestic servant when she turned sixteen.
In the past, I would never admit to being a daughter of a British Child Migrant. Today I am proud to be my mother’s daughter. As a child, it was a shameful and often worrying experience. Researching the layers of British Child Migration has enabled me to understand my mother and my family’s role in this incredible 350-year history of Britain shipping children to the colonies.
Today I live on Salt Spring Island, B.C.”.
186 Isle View Drive
Salt Spring Island
BC, Canada V8K 2G5