Manitoba woman learns she was a part of the ’60s Scoop, decades later

Fifty-one-year-old Lori-Ann Lucas made a discovery that filled a void she says she’d long looked to fill in her life.

“I always felt a little different and I could never put my finger on it. I knew there was just something — I  belonged, but I didn’t belong.”

Lucas is adopted. Three months ago she began searching for her birth family.

She discovered her adoption papers, including her birth mother’s name. Using social media, she posted the papers online and asked for help connecting her with relatives.

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“When the first one came in and they told me about how we’re related, I literally dropped to my knees and just started crying and I went, ‘These are the pieces that I’m missing.’”

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She discovered she is Ojibway and from Ebb and Flow First Nation with dozens of family members across the prairies.

But her biggest discovery: she was a part of the ’60s Scoop.

Lucas says she eventually connected with an older sister, who shared the last memory she had of her when she was nearly a year old.

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“She remembers us kids hiding in a closet and her holding me. We’re kind of guessing about six months. And she was holding me, trying to keep me quiet,” Lucas said.

“Then she remembers grandma yelling and shouting and her opening the door a crack. And grandma had a baseball bat and was trying to fight them off. She doesn’t understand what’s going on, fight off from whoever was trying to get in the house. And unfortunately, that was the day that they got us.”

Lucas was fostered in to a white family and later adopted by her current family. She’s since learned she also has two older brothers, one who has died, another she cannot find.

It’s estimated that around 20,000 Indigenous children were taken from their families in the 1960s to assimilate them into Western culture.

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Read more: What was the ‘60s Scoop’? Aboriginal children taken from homes a dark chapter in Canada’s history

During her time discovering her birth family’s history, she connected with a distant cousin, Rose Laquette, who she says has been guiding her in rediscovering her culture.

Lori and Rose meet for the first time.
Lori and Rose meet for the first time.

“It’s healing. I was so nervous of meeting her. And when you get that first hug, it’s healing. It’s exciting. It’s … it’s love,” Lucas says of the first time the two met.

“We just hugged and she cried and cried. It was a mutual feeling. She finally has that connection, she knew who she was now,” Laquette says.

Laquette, Lucas and her daughter travelled to Bacon Ridge and Ebb and Flow First Nation to visit her late parents’ homestead and learn more about her culture.

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Read more: Indigenous community shares stories of survival decades after the 60’s Scoop

It’s a  decision Laquette says Lucas was hesitant about.

“She kept asking me, ‘Will they accept me?’” Laquette said. “I had to keep reassuring her to find her identity, which was really important to her.”

When they arrived at Ebb and Flow First Nation, Lucas says it was a surreal moment.

“The first words a lot of them said is, ‘Welcome home,’ and I know it doesn’t mean a lot to others, but it was so nice to hear that,” said Lucas.

After touring the community, she says she found an old rusted handwashing basin — a gift she believes was there for her to bring back home and keep as a small memory of her biological family.

Photo of the basin Lucas found while visiting her late parents homestead. Submitted.

Lucas says the hardest part of her journey to reclaim her heritage has been forgiveness.

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“I am lucky and I I’m not going to waste that luck,” she says, speaking about her adoptive parents, and noting that many children did not have similar experiences.

She says this is just the start of the journey to reclaim her heritage.

“I think part of my calling now, start talking, start speaking, start taking a stand, educating, encouraging. We’re all here for a purpose, and I think that’s one of my purposes.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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