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Canada refuses to apologise over British children abuse scandal

The Canadian government has refused the latest request for an apology to British children abused in the country.

Campaigners for youngsters shipped to Canada in the 19th and 20th centuries have petitioned the country's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to apologise for their mistreatment.

His government has declined - a decision campaigners have said "compounds the historical injustice".

About 115,000 youngsters, so-called British Home Children, were sent to Canada from the UK between 1869 and 1948.

They were typically used as cheap labour on farms or as domestic servants and many were subject to mistreatment and abuse.

The UK and Australia have issued formal apologies for their roles in the transport of British children into punishing circumstances overseas and petitioners asked Canada to do the same.

In responding, the Canadian government said: "It is generally agreed that [the children's] living and working conditions were poorly supervised in Canada, leaving the children vulnerable to abuse and prejudice."

However, the response contained no apology which has infuriated petition organisers.

Lori Oschefski, of British Home Children Canada, told Sky News: "By rejecting an apology, the government not only overlooks the enduring trauma suffered by these individuals and the intergenerational trauma passed down to their some four million descendants, but also fails to demonstrate a commitment to rectifying historical wrongs.

"For a nation to move forward, it is imperative to confront and learn from its historical missteps, and the current refusal to apologise for the mistreatment of the British Home Children reflects a disheartening lack of progress in this critical aspect of Canada's historical consciousness and compounds the historical injustice, perpetuating a narrative of neglect and indifference towards the victims of this reprehensible chapter in Canadian history."

Read more:
'People thought we were scum' - forgotten legacy of British children sent to Canada

In its response to the petition, the Canadian government highlighted its initiatives to recognise the experience of Home Children, including the adoption in 2017 by its House of Commons of an apology to the British Home Children and their descendants.

Campaigners point out that it falls short of the formal apology they want, of the sort made by the UK and Australia.