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Support Info: If you are a Survivor and need emotional support, a national crisis line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week: Residential School Survivor Support Line: 1-866-925-4419. Additional Health Support Information: Emotional, cultural, and professional support services are also available to Survivors and their families through the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program. Services can be accessed on an individual, family, or group basis.” These & regional support phone numbers are found at https://nctr.ca/contact/survivors/ .

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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

SIXTIES SCOOP: Raised Jewish, Adoptee Sharing Story

Former Winnipegger of Métis ancestry, raised Jewish sharing her experience

 
 
Growing up as an adopted child in a Jewish family in Winnipeg, Lisa Wilder knew she was different. She just didn’t know why.

She found out when she was in her mid-20s.

She was of Métis ancestry.

SUPPLIED by Lisa Wilder

“I felt misaligned as a child,” said Wilder, 53, who was part of the ’60s Scoop.

It wasn’t the fault of her family or the Winnipeg Jewish community, she said.

“I had a good upbringing, and my adoption was presented in a positive manner by my parents,” she said. “I just felt something was off.”

Later in life, as Wilder learned more about her adoption, she discovered her mother was 17 when she was born. Shortly after, her mother was told Lisa would soon die. Hospital officials convinced her to sign papers to pay for the burial.

But the baby was not dying. Instead, she was put into a foster home where she was adopted by her new parents — who didn’t know she had been “scooped.”

Today Wilder, a mother of three who now lives in Calgary, is on a quest to learn more about her Indigenous roots and combine them with her Jewish life.

There are similarities between the two, she said, adding both groups “suffered a genocide.”

She also noted that Indigenous people, like Jews in Nazi Germany, were prevented from performing their ceremonies or celebrating their spirituality. They were also confined to reservations, like Jews were, for a time, confined to ghettos.

As she learns more about the Indigenous side of her heritage, she is looking for ways to amalgamate the two. At the same time, although she is of Métis ancestry, Wilder is careful not to call herself Indigenous.

“I’m not trying to pass myself off that way,” she said. “I have not led an Indigenous life. I grew up Jewish. Métis is my ancestry. I’m reaching out to Indigenous people for guidance. I want to learn more.”

Wilder spoke about her experience at a presentation called Uncovering my Métis Roots: A Jewish Woman’s Journey.

“I’m a bit terrified to share my story in the community I grew up in,” said Wilder, noting her adoptive parents, who were supportive of her search for her biological family, will be there.

Her hope in sharing her experience is to promote understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.

“I hope I can move the needle of awareness a little bit, to make this a more peaceful and understanding world,” she said. “I’m no expert. I’m just a person with a story who wants a better world.”

To register for the event, which is presented by the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg — Women’s Philanthropy, call 204-477-7426 or visit their website.


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Canada's Residential Schools

The religious organizations that operated the schools — the Anglican Church of Canada, Presbyterian Church in Canada, United Church of Canada, Jesuits of English Canada and some Catholic groups — in 2015 expressed regret for the “well-documented” abuses. The Catholic Church has never offered an official apology, something that Trudeau and others have repeatedly called for.

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Detailed discussion of the Bering Strait theory and other scientific theories about the population of the modern-day Americas is beyond the scope of this essay. However, it should be noted that Indian people have expressed suspicion that DNA analysis is a tool that scientists will use to support theories about the origins of tribal people that contradict tribal oral histories and origin stories. Perhaps more important,the alternative origin stories of scientists are seen as intending to weaken tribal land and other legal claims (and even diminish a history of colonialism?) that are supported in U.S. federal and tribal law. As genetic evidence has already been used to resolve land conflicts in Asian and Eastern European countries, this is not an unfounded fear.

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