The Maternity Home Justice Project
You’ve likely landed on this page because you read the author’s note in my novel Looking for Jane. You’re probably angry about the treatment of girls and women at these government-funded maternity homes in the postwar era, and want to do something about it.
It is my sincere hope that if enough of us raise our voices, we may be able to help these women and their families get some measure of the justice they deserve.
Here you’ll find:
- Background on the maternity home system/forced adoption mandate in Canada
- Information on the Senate Committee that heard from survivors and adoptees who were impacted by the maternity home system and forced adoption mandate
- The Senate Committee’s 2018 Report, which outlined several recommendations for how the Government of Canada could provide justice to the survivors
- How to take action: Contact information for your Member of Parliament, and a sample email you can cut and paste
BACKGROUND: THE MATERNITY HOME SYSTEM
The Legacy of Forced Adoption: 300,000 Unmarried Canadian Women Had to Give Up Their Babies
‘Bad girls’: Remembering When Unwed Mothers Were Told to Forget Their Babies
Women Seek Apology, Inquiry from Government for ‘Forced Adoptions’
THE GLOBE AND MAIL:
Former ‘Unwed Mothers’ Call for Public Inquiry into Forced Adoptions
THE NATIONAL POST:
Curtain Lifts on Decades of Forced Adoptions for Unwed Mothers in Canada
Senate Report Chronicles Forced Adoptions in Postwar Canada
THE WASHINGTON POST:
Thousands of Canadian Mothers Were Forced to Give Up Their Babies. Some Were Told to ‘Get a Puppy’ Instead
THE SENATE COMMITTEE
The Shame Is Ours: Forced Adoptions of the Babies of Unmarried Mothers in Post-War Canada
Survivors of Postwar Adoption Mandate Share Their Stories
It’s Time to Help Survivors Heal from Canada’s Post-War Adoption Practices: Senators Eggleton, Petitclerc
THE 2018 SENATE REPORT
The Senate Committee released its report, The Shame Is Ours, in July of 2018. At the time, they gave the Government of Canada 1 year in which to respond to its recommendations, which included issuing a formal apology in the House of Commons to the survivors of the maternity home system and those impacted by the forced adoption mandate.
To date – 4 and a half years later – the government has not issued the formal apology. They remain silent while the remaining survivors and their families await a long overdue reparation for the damage caused by the government’s actions in the postwar era.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Write, call, or email your Member of Parliament (MP) today and demand they carry out the Senate Committee’s recommendations and issue the formal apology.
If you don’t know who your Member of Parliament is, you can search for your MP using your postal code at THIS LINK.
For my international readers: your voice matters, too! Get in touch with the Prime Minister’s office directly by emailing Justin.Trudeau@parl.gc.ca
A sample email is included below. Feel free to copy and paste it when writing to your MP or the Prime Minister:
I am writing today to express my outrage at the government’s inaction regarding reparations for survivors of the post-war maternity home system. It is estimated that over 300,000 Canadian women were victims of this system and the government’s forced adoption mandate in the 1940s through 1970s.
In July of 2018, the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology released a report entitled The Shame Is Ours: Forced Adoptions of the Babies of Unmarried Women in Post-War Canada.
The report contained several recommendations, including that “the Government of Canada issue a formal apology on behalf of all Canadians to the mothers and their children who were subjected to forced adoption practices in the years following World War II.”
Formal apologies have already been issued to the survivors of government run/sponsored maternity homes in other jurisdictions worldwide, including Australia (2013) and Ireland (2021).
In 2018, the committee gave the Government of Canada one year to fulfil its recommendations, yet to date, nothing has been done to deliver justice to these survivors. Lives were ruined and families were torn apart as a result of the maternity home practice. The 300,000+ women who were victimized by this system at the very least deserve a formal apology and recognition that their own government was in part responsible for their trauma.
The government has dragged its feet for nearly five years. As your constituent, I demand that you appeal to the government to take action on this file immediately, carry out the Senate committee’s recommendations and issue the formal apology in the House of Commons without any further delay.
[Insert your name]