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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Facebook event poster leads to reunion for #60sScoop sisters in Saskatoon

Melika Popp recognized birth mom's last name on birthday party poster

By Stephanie Cram, CBC News  Oct 22, 2016

Sisters Melika Popp and Kimberly Switzer-Ashong were separated from each other as children - a result of the Sixties Scoop. They reunited for the first time on Oct. 6, 2016.
Sisters Melika Popp and Kimberly Switzer-Ashong were separated from each other as children - a result of the Sixties Scoop. They reunited for the first time on Oct. 6, 2016.





Melika Popp was surprised to see her birth mother's last name on a poster on Facebook for the 80th birthday party for Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Senator Luke Nanaquetung.
It was a chance sighting that led her home.
Popp, 41, is a survivor of the Sixties Scoop who was taken away from her mother in 1976, when she was two. She was placed in foster care and later adopted by a M├ętis family from Saskatoon.
"There was always something missing. I didn't know where I came from," said Popp.
"I was probably around eight years old when I recognized that I didn't really belong anywhere."
After she saw the name on Facebook, Popp decided to call the phone number on the poster and ended up speaking to her aunt.
From the conversation, Popp found out that Senator Nanaquetung is her grandfather, and her sister Kimberly Switzer-Ashong was living in the same city as she was — Saskatoon.
"It was a miracle, in a way. I think it was God's work of keeping us so close together," said Popp.
Popp was given a phone number for her sister, but she doubted calling it would lead to anything concrete.
"I had anticipated that I would just leave a message and we would play phone tag back and forth, but it happened so quickly.… She answered the phone and we talked," said Popp.
"It's a huge blessing to come across her, but at the same time, it's bittersweet, because we were both removed from each other's life due to being colonized."

'The timing was right' 

The sisters ended up meeting in person on Oct. 6.
Switzer-Ashong, 39, said she always imagined meeting her sister would be emotional, but she was surprised by how calm she was.
"I'm almost 40 years old. I think I was just ready for it," said Switzer-Ashong. "It was natural. I embraced her. The timing was right."
The sisters only met two weeks ago, but they are already spending lots of time together.
"Our children are going to be part of each other's lives, and we plan on making up for time lost," said Popp.
Popp has shared her story with audiences, speaking about the Sixties Scoop and the practice of coercive sterilization of Indigenous women in Canada, which also happened to her.
Popp is part of a class-action lawsuit against the federal government for Sixties Scoop survivors from Saskatchewan. Currently she is helping her sister join the lawsuit.
"We lost our culture, we lost our identity, we lost our language, we lost our family," said Popp. "And you know, that really impacted our self-concept and our self-esteem as Indigenous women."
The sisters hope their story will inspire other survivors of the Sixties Scoop to find their family members.
"With raising national awareness, it helps encourage and inspire transformative change and healing for survivors and people who suffered at the hands of the federal and provincial governments," said Popp.

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