New NFB doc shows a family reunited after being separated by the Sixties Scoop

A Saskatchewan filmmaker's new film shows siblings separated by the Sixties Scoop coming together for the first time.

In making 'Birth of a Family' filmmaker Tasha Hubbard recognized similarities to her own story

Tasha Hubbard's documentary Birth of a Family captures four siblings adopted out meeting for the first time. (National Film Board)

The idea for the documentary first came from a Saskatoon journalist Looking to reconvene with her siblings who were taken during the Sixties Scoop.

Betty Ann Adam, a reporter with the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, is the eldest of the siblings came to filmmaker Tasha Hubbard. Adam planned to bring her three siblings together in the same place, at the same time, for the first time. 

I came back to a sense of who I am through story- Tasha Hubbard , filmmaker

Adam had spoken with Marie Wilson, one of the commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, who encouraged her to document her experience. That led Adam to Hubbard in the spring of 2015.

Originally Adam had planned to get a cabin somewhere in Banff sometime in the next two months as the meeting ground. But she held off until Hubbard was able to commit to it.

"I said this is a story that I think the National Film Board will really get behind and see the value in doing," said Hubbard, who soon after her initial meeting went to Toronto for HotDocs, an international documentary festival.

She pitched the film, the NFB gave it the green light on Aug. 23, 2015 and started shooting Sept. 4. When it came to filming the occasion she initially felt some pressure.

"I know that sometimes a film crew can get in the way, it can change the experience. I really wanted to make sure, as much as possible, that we didn't interfere with what they were doing," said Hubbard.

That led her to shoot the documentary as a more observational piece of film. By using two cameras to shoot it the experience stayed organic and as true to reality as possible.

Experience and knowledge

For Hubbard, the project was reminiscent of her own experience, having been adopted when she was a baby. Growing up on a farm in southern Saskatchewan she would later connect with her family as a teenager. 

"I had an idea of what they were going to go through, but I also really felt deeply the same things they were processing around their sense of their loss," said Hubbard.

Hubbard started working on CBC's Big Bear in 1998, a program she fought to be a part of.

"I was so excited to learn a story about my people and our past that wasn't filtered through schools," said Hubbard. "It was exciting to be with other Indigenous people telling a story on film. I really saw the power in that"

For Hubbard, film offers a way to give added depth, context and emotion to daily news stories, something she felt was often lacking. But also preserving the human elements of headlines and historic events.

"I came back to a sense of who I am through story in multiple forms," said Hubbard, who also studies and teaches Indigenous literature. "With the film you have 40 minutes, 80 minutes to really get into an issue. And not just the issue but the people in the issue."

The film is currently being screened across the country. A free screening is taking place October 25 at the University of Saskatchewan's Aboriginal Student Centre. 

About the Author

Alec Salloum

Reporter/Web Writer

Alec Salloum is a reporter and web writer with CBC Saskatchewan.