July 1, 2010

Long Lost Relative Found and Celebrated

Long lost relative found and celebrated

By Stefania Seccia, Westerly News
July 1, 2010

June 20 was a busy day of celebrations for the Yuu-cluth-aht (Ucluelet) First Nations; it was Father's Day, an elder's birthday, young people were being given their traditional Nuu-chah-nulth names and a long lost relative was reunited with her family.

Nine years ago, Vi Mundy's sister passed away, but just before she died she recounted to her mother of a child she had and gave up for adoption years before.

"My sister was a nomadic person, very independent, but she would check in with the family from time to time," Mundy explained. "She lived all over the place, even in Hawaii, which is where she had her daughter."

The family was shocked, Mundy said, but time went on.

"About two months ago our [band] office got a phone call," Mundy said. "And they were asking for Rita."

Mundy said it was a social worker acting on behalf of the adoptive family of the baby, now 21-year-old woman, and said Rita was her biological mother.

"The girl from the office phoned my mother and told her the story," Mundy said. "We couldn't believe it, and we only knew it could be true because my sister told my mom six months before she died."

So, Mundy's mother phoned social services in Hawaii to find out if Rita could be this girl's mother.

"And could you believe it? My mother spoke to the same social worker who helped my sister 21 years ago," Mundy said.

Then she got back into contact with the social worker who was representing her granddaughter's adoptive family.

"We wanted to let her family know that we were interested in connecting, but we weren't sure if the daughter wanted to contact us," Mundy said. "We didn't want to put any pressure on her or scare her away."

But, Shalyce Parashonts had always wanted to find her family.

"Shalyce said that she always wanted to find her mother and where she came from," Mundy said.

Parashonts lives in Utah and her family is of the Peyote tribe, according to Mundy.

"She's completed her first year of university, and is very interested in the arts, singing and dancing," she said.

On June 20, amidst the naming ceremony, birthday celebration and Father's Day, Parashonts, and her father Travis Parashonts were brought in by canoe to Ittatsoo's shore.

"She sang with her father," Mundy said of the celebration. "She has a strong, clear voice. It's really strong."

Mundy described the evening as being very emotional for her 79-year-old mother who was not only celebrating her birthday, but met a family member she never thought she'd see.

"Her father only comes from a 260-member tribe," Mundy added. "He explained where they came from...and how his family raised her since she was only a few days old."

Travis also said how he was proud to reunite his daughter with all of her family, and was honoured by the reception they received from the YFN.

"It was the right thing to do," said Mundy.


© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

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