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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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