When is a family reunion not a reunion?
When your family has never met.
Three sisters and a brother, adopted as infants into separate families across North America, meet together for the first time in this deeply moving documentary by director Tasha Hubbard.
Removed from their young Dene mother’s care as part of Canada’s infamous Sixties Scoop, Betty Ann, Esther, Rosalie and Ben were four of the 20,000 Indigenous children taken from their families between 1955 and 1985, to be either adopted into white families or to live in foster care. After a decades-long search, Betty Ann, the oldest, has tracked down her siblings, one by one. Now all in middle age, each has grown up in different circumstances, with different family cultures, different values and no shared memories. Birth of a Family follows them through pain, trepidation and laughter as they work together to build their family.
With deep sensitivity and an almost invisible presence, Hubbard follows the siblings as they meet in Banff, Alberta, all four together for the first time. Everything is new to them: their ancestry, their culture, their language, and one another. Before their meeting, they are hopeful but apprehensive, wondering how they will relate to one another, knowing full well how hard it will be to reclaim what has been missing all their lives.
Over their week together in Banff, they talk about their lives and the struggles they went through as foster kids and adoptees. Betty Ann, the only one who’s met their mother, Mary Jane, shares with her younger siblings what she knows about her as a person and the impact residential school may have had on her.
Hearing anecdotes and seeing photos of their mother allows the sisters and their brother insight into her life. Each new story about her is both a gift and a poignant reminder of what they lost. As the four siblings piece together their shared history, their connection deepens and a fledgling family dynamic evolves.
Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the ImagiNATIVE Film Festival.
For peer support and resources for post-adoption services, call: 1 866 456 6060.