Saskatchewan family seeks sibling separated in Sixties Scoop as deadline looms
Lachances are looking for sister born Marie Gullion on Oct. 29, 1962 in Edmonton
With the deadline to register for Sixties Scoop compensation closing in, two siblings are desperately searching for a lost relative to make sure she's got everything in order.
Darren Lachance thought for most of his life that he was the oldest of three siblings. But in 2011, a few months before his mother died, she told him she had another child who was placed into care and adopted.
He contacted social services to find out more information about his unknown sister and ended up being put in touch with a different sibling — one he also didn't know existed.
"It was just a shock for all of us," he said. With the sister he is still seeking, Marie Gullion, "now there's six of us in total."
Marie Gullion was born Oct. 29, 1962, at the Misericordia Community Hospital in Edmonton. He said even those few facts were given to him by mistake.
He said he's tried contacting an adoption agency in Alberta but wasn't able to get any information about her. The family has tried combing through social media to no avail.
"Maybe her name is changed, we don't know. Maybe she's passed on, we don't know," Darren said. "It's something we got to get closure on."
Carolyn Lachance, Darren's sister, is helping in the search. She found out about their long-lost sister when she was 17 or 18.
"My mom was a very closed person," Carolyn said. "She wasn't physically affectionate, she was quiet, she didn't talk about her feelings a lot. She was very emotionally closed off, very guarded."
Carolyn said she never understood why her mother was the way she was, but attributed it to her upbringing.
She said her mother was dropped off with a sibling at their grandparents' house and they didn't see their own mother until they were older.
Carolyn said the family has no information about Gullion or her whereabouts beyond the few tidbits mistakenly sent to Darren by social services, .
"Best-case scenario for us is to find our sister and let her know she's not alone, that she was not thrown away, that she does have a family," Carolyn said.
A social worker by trade, Carolyn said she's familiar with what could have happened to Gullion.
She could have been adopted by a loving family and had her name changed. Maybe she wasn't adopted, grew up in foster homes and is angry at everyone for her situation. She could have been adopted out of the country and have no idea about who she is. She could be dead.
"There's a lot of things that go against us locating her at this point, but you've got to hope," Carolyn said.
Compensation deadline closing in
The one-year window for Sixties Scoop survivors to take part in the claims process closes on Aug. 30. An $875-million class action settlement agreement set aside $750 million to compensate status First Nations and Inuit children who were removed from their homes and placed with non-Indigenous foster or adoptive parents between 1951 and 1991 and lost their cultural identities as a result.
Some advocates have called for the submission period to be extended, but no federal commitments have been made to do so.
Melissa Parken, with the Saskatoon Indian and Métis Friendship Centre, is helping survivors apply for the program. She said she wishes the deadline was longer.
"It's really stressful and it's really not fair."
Parken said she doesn't expect to see the deadline extended. She said inmates in correctional facilities have had no help in trying to apply for compensation.
She said she's been told payouts are expected to come in April 2020.
Money 'doesn't fix everything'
Darren said that, on top of wanting to ensure Gullion has all her paperwork to receive compensation, the family wants to meet her, get to know her and let her know about the family's medical problems.
"Money can help, it doesn't fix everything, it doesn't fix anything, but it can help," Carolyn said.
"Being registered with the Sixties Scoop class action means that you have access to support. You have access to other people who have gone through the same thing you have."
With files from Alec Salloum