We all remember when he was taken.
Taken without permission from Facebook.
Some of you probably have heard of the 60s scoop. The other some of you probably haven't and have no clue what the 60s scoop is, but that wouldn't surprise me. Because a lot of the stuff that happened to First Nations people isn't acknowledged or talked about. So for those of you that don't know, let me just briefly explain. The 60s scoop was a thing in Canada where First Nations children were taken from their families and placed into group homes, foster homes and where they would wait to hopefully be adopted. Some to never see their family again, never learn their culture or who they are (were). Leaving the parents/family of these kids who were taken from them broken, hurt, and filled with pain. Welcome inter generational trauma. The pain doesn't go away. It doesn't just stop. Neither does the hurt. everyone is effected. the generations after are still effected. How would I know? Because I live it. I see it. I see the hurt. I see the pain. and I feel the broken. Generation after generation of hurt, pain, and being broken. And so I guess someone has to try break the cycle. Here's my story about my brother Lee Ambrose Hall Bruyere.
In 1976 Norman had a son named Lee Ambrose. When Lee was just 3 years old he was taken from his biological family. And moved into the United States where he was placed into a group home, and waited a year till being adopted into a family.
Lee's family members in Manitoba tried to do everything they could to get him back but they never heard from him again after that. Let me remind you that he was only 3 YEARS OLD! imagine having your baby taken from you and never seeing or hearing from them again, awful isn't it. His family would continue to search and fight to try get him back. But everything they would do ended in failure. Leaving them grieving for Lee. As years passed they would still continue doing everything in their power that they could to try reunite with him.
Fast forward into the 2000s. And this is where my contribute in this search begins. I was young when I first learned about my brother. But when I was 9 or 10 I remember listening to a conversation and stories being shared about him and what happened. Then it hit me, I have a brother out there somewhere. I knew his name and later found out the state he was adopted into which was Pennsylvania. So having 3 sisters and always wanting a brother, when I found out about Lee I told myself I don't care what it takes, one day I will find and have my brother in my life. And
hope that finding him would bring some
healing to the family. So I did what a 10 year old with the internet could do. I searched Facebook, Instagram, twitter and google looking for him having no clue what he looked like or if he even still used his birth name. I remember one time when I was searching I typed in "people in Pennsylvania named lee." Haha ya good luck delanie. After being dedicated to searching for usually a week I would give up on myself. I was 10. Then a month or two would pass and I would find myself thinking of him and start looking again. This went on and on till I was in grade 10. I also was doing this by myself, as in I didn't really let anyone know that I was doing all this trying to find him, until March 2016. But when ever I had the chance to talk about him, I talked about him as if I knew him my whole life. I took lots of pride in having a brother.
On March 17 2016 my oldest sister passed away Lee's full biological sister. Me and my sister were really close. And finding Lee meant a lot to her. so I knew that no matter what, I had to find him. During that time I got to see my very first picture of Lee, of him as a baby. I then talked to Norman and told him that I wanna find him, I was sent to talk to Karen the aunty. We talked about him and she told me what she had done throughout the years of searching and having no luck. She told me that she had a letter that was sent to her and that she would give it to me in hopes that it could help me. The letter was sent from Southern Manitoba First Nations Repatriation Program, written on March 19 2004 (Lee age 28) saying his DOB, name and where he was adopted (Pennsylvania) already knew this. And that's what I was left with to try find my brother in a world with billions of people. I'm gonna be honest in the back of my head there was a thought saying that this is impossible you're wasting your time, but good thing I'm a bull head and don't listen. I didn't give up and continued my search. I phoned the number on the letter and emailed but no answer or response, I then looked for the lady's name that was on the letter, I found her on Facebook and personally messaged her. I was informed that the SMFNRP was no longer a thing. At that moment I felt hopeless. I didn't know what I was gonna do next or if there was anything I could do, but I didn't give up. I went online did a ton of research on the 60s scoop to help me understand a bit more. I was only 15-16 at the time, calling adoption reachers and emailing anyone that I thought might be able to help. But it didn't help me. Sometime last year it was announced that the adoption files from 60s scoop kids will be opened in Manitoba. Melissa helped me fill out the forms to apply to get the records. And she also phoned Manitoba adoption agency to help me get info on how everything works. I remember the day we called, I was frustrated angry and ready to give up. We were told that basically if we apply for them but Lee hasn't opened the files on his side then we can't get them. Which meant probably never finding him. I didn't really know what to think besides like what that's fucken crazy! what if he doesn't even know? What if this what if that. All these thoughts going through my head as I was about to give up after all these years. Melissa just says delanie let's just fill out the forms, send them in and see what happens. Ok I'm less heated again so we get the forms done and send them. This was on April 25 2016. Couple months pass don't hear or get anything back. So at this point I'm thinking well that obviously didn't work. Guess it's back to google searching "people in Pennsylvania named Lee" ha not even kidding. I was desperate to find him. I even sent in an application for that tv show long lost family. Messaging random people who I thought could maybe be him. I remember at school I would spend hours in the computer lab trying to get information, names, numbers, emails of people who I could contact to try and help me. Nothing seemed to work or help. It was very frustrating. But yunno I wasn't just gonna give up. I know what it's like to be given up on. Even though at the time Lee had no clue I was looking for him, at least now he knows I never gave up on him.
May 4 2017 over a year later there's a letter in the mail from Manitoba department of families. I never been so anxious to open a letter before, this letter meant everything. So I open the letter, and there it is my brothers name Lee Ambrose Priar. I can't even explain what it felt like, it was just unbelievable. Norman and other members of the family left it up to me to be the one to contact him. Little overwhelming but I got this far wasn't gonna get scared now. I found his Facebook and tried messaging him, didn't get a response but I wasn't sure if he was getting the messages. So I continued to Google him and see if I can get a number to call or email. I think I phoned like 5 different numbers, some not in service anymore, others no answer. Emailed 3 different emails all said the email isn't valid anymore. So I was on white pages or some site like that and I came across a name that was linked to him. It was his mother. And I called the number, it actually rang, and the craziest thing happened she answered! I hung up so fast. I sat in my vehicle listened to a few songs, did some breathing. And called back. She answers I say to her "hello, I'm the person who called and hung up earlier so very sorry. I'm just really nervous and scared and please just don't hang up on me" ironic.
so she just says "ya it's okay no worries what are you calling for?"
"Are you Lee's mom"
" yes I am "
" um my name is delanie bruyere I am from sagkeeng First Nation and I'm Lee's youngest sibling "
The conversation went from there. She was a very nice lady, open to talking to me, and very kind. At the start of the conversation I could barely talk, too having no problem at all talking to her. So I'm very thankful that everything went so well. The next day I woke up to a friend request on Facebook from my brother! Best friend request I've ever gotten, well besides when I was like 9 and thought I got a friend request from the real Justin Bieber. Besides the point, I personally didn't end up talking to Lee until June 5th that was the first time we talked through inbox. Anyway from their things went good more family got added on his Facebook and chatting with him, good stuff like that.
As of June 28th myself, my sister Dakota, my late sister hollies daughter Carrie, and Norman decided we are going on a road trip to Harrisburg Pennsylvania to meet Lee! as of right now we are about 2 hours away. After driving for 33 hours. And to think that I'm only a couple hours away from meeting my brother for the first time, it's fucking insane! Sorry bout the F bomb but it is fucking insane! Like this day is finally here! I don't know how many times I thought about the day I got to meet my brother, and here it is like 2 good albums away, yup I tell time in songs/albums. Who doesn't? Example my average shower takes like 3 songs unless my playlist is bumping then maybe 5 songs. Ok well after I meet him I will type the ending to my story of my search for my brother. And this isn't even really the end, it's just the beginning.
Just officially met my brother for the first time.
I'm kinda speechless. It's just unreal. I'm sorry it took so long too find you. Glad I never gave up.