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‘It feels like she should’ve been here all along’: Sask. woman meets birth family on Christmas Day





It has been a very special Christmas for Janet Anderson, who says she’s found what she’s been searching for all her life.

The 64-year-old from Moose Jaw, Sask., met her birth family for the first time on Christmas morning in B.C., 64 years and two days after being adopted by another family two provinces away.

“My heart is so full — it is, it really is,” said Anderson. “I feel like I am a whole person now, whereas before, there was always a puzzle piece missing and my family has filled that here.”

In October, Anderson received her registration of live birth in the mail from the Saskatchewan government.

She found her birth mother, Jean Stahl, on Facebook and decided to reach out by messaging her daughter, Elaine. After the initial shock wore off, the two began talking regularly and Elaine Stahl invited Anderson to Haida Gwaii, B.C., to join the family for the holidays.

There was always a puzzle piece missing and my family has filled that here.– Janet Anderson

On Christmas Eve, Anderson’s flight from Vancouver to Sandspit, B.C., was cancelled and there wasn’t another scheduled for two days. But she was determined to make it.

“Christmas is a time for families to come together and it’s really important,” Anderson said.

Janet and her adoptive father, Richard Anderson, are shown on the day she was adopted: Dec. 23, 1954. (Submitted by Janet Anderson)

She instead caught a flight to Prince Rupert, B.C., and took an overnight ferry to the island. Elaine and her husband Greg picked her up at the terminal at 5:30 a.m. on Christmas morning.

“It was everything I hoped for and more,” said Anderson. “I have a sister!”

Moose Jaw, Sask. woman Janet Anderson had the chance to finally meet her birth sister and mother in B.C. on Christmas day after being adopted as baby in 1954. 0:57

They both recognized each other right away. The two long-lost sisters have barely left each other’s side since.

“She was crying and I was hugging,” said Anderson. “It was an awesome moment that we’ll both never forget.”

“It was just such a relief and so exciting to finally meet her,” said Elaine. “For me, it was only two months. For her, it was 64 years waiting.”

Janet Anderson first connected with her half-sister, Elaine Stahl, shown at left, on Facebook, before speaking with her mother, Jean Stahl, shown at right. (Submitted by Janet Anderson)

Anderson was in for a shock when her birth mother was waiting to meet her in the car.

“I had waited all my life to meet her and to look at her and to just see her and hug her,” Anderson said. “There’s no words to describe it.”

Jean Stahl was 25 when she gave birth to Anderson at the Salvation Army Grace Haven, a home for unwed mothers in Regina, and eventually put the baby up for adoption. (At the time, her name was Lillian Jean Avery.)

She went on to get married and raise four children in Salmo, B.C., where she still lives.

Until this year, she had only told her parents and her husband Kurt about the baby she gave up as a single woman. She never said anything about the birth father, who was 24 at the time of Anderson’s birth.

Content with her adopted family growing up, Anderson only began seeking information about her birth family in 1991 without much luck. But when the Government of Saskatchewan opened its adoption records for adult adoptees on Jan. 1, 2017, it allowed Anderson and other access to all their paperwork as long as it was not vetoed by a birth parent.

Stahl always wondered if she would be contacted by her daughter one day, but had signed a paper saying she wouldn’t seek her out. She is still processing the impact of the reunion, Anderson said.

For Christmas, Stahl gave Anderson a framed photo of the two of them, before Anderson was adopted. (Submitted by Janet Anderson)

Anderson said they had a breakthrough as mother and daughter when she stopped Stahl from walking back to her granddaughter’s house alone.

“It was raining out and it was a little slippery. Off she was going. And all of a sudden, I looked at her and said, ‘Mom, stop,'” said Anderson. “I didn’t want her to fall, and it’s the first time I called her mom.

“It just came out. It was such a natural thing to say to her. I think that made her realize it’s real.”

For Christmas, Stahl gave Anderson a framed photo of the two of them, before Anderson was adopted.

It took me 64 years but it is just so worth it.– Janet Anderson

Anderson gave everyone personalized Christmas ornaments with the date of their meeting and sentiments about being together at last.

Janet is staying with Elaine at her house in Haida Gwaii for the holidays. (CBC News)

Anderson said she’s been met with both love and acceptance by all of the family. She has also met her two brothers, Jerry and Jamie, over Skype.

“It feels like she should’ve been here all along,” said Elaine.

The sisters have found out they have a lot in common. Both of them were lifeguards as teens, both spent their summers in Penticton, B.C., as young adults, and both still have a bad habit of rolling their eyes when they’re annoyed.

“We’re both very stubborn,” Anderson said, laughing.

While some people have said their connection is only DNA, Anderson said it’s unexplainable to those who haven’t been in their situation. She encourages everyone else who is searching for their birth family not to give up.

“It took me 64 years but it is just so worth it.”


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Ottawa unveils funding for poultry and egg farmers hurt by free-trade deals





Canadian egg and poultry farmers who’ve lost domestic market share due to two recent free-trade agreements will soon have access to $691 million in federal cash, Canada’s agriculture minister announced Saturday.

Marie-Claude Bibeau shared details of the long-awaited funds in a virtual news conference.

“Today we position our young farmers for growth and success tomorrow,” she said.

The money follows a previously announced $1.75 billion for the dairy sector linked to free-trade deals with Europe and countries on the Pacific Rim, one that came into effect in 2017 and the other in 2018.

The dairy sector funds were to flow over eight years, and the first $345 million payment was sent out last year.

But on Saturday, Bibeau announced a schedule for the remaining payments that will see the money flow over three years — beginning with $468 million in 2020-21, $469 million in 2021-22 and $468 million in 2022-23.

Bibeau said the most recently announced funds for dairy farmers amount to an average farm of 80 cows receiving a direct payment of $38,000 in the first year.

Payments based on formulas

David Wiens, vice-president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, said the money will help farms make investments for the future.

“I think particularly for the younger farmers who have really struggled since these agreements have been ratified, they can actually now see opportunities, how they can continue to make those investments on the farm so that they can continue on,” he said.

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Employee of Ottawa Metro store tests positive for COVID-19





Metro says an employee of its grocery store on Beechwood Avenue in Ottawa has tested positive for COVID-19.

The company says the employee’s positive test result was reported on Nov. 25. The employee had last been at work at the Metro at 50 Beechwood Ave. on Nov. 19.

Earlier this month, Metro reported several cases of COVID-19 at its warehouse on Old Innes Road.

Positive test results were reported on Nov. 2, Nov. 6, Nov. 11, and Nov. 19. The first two employees worked at the produce warehouse at 1184 Old Innes Rd. The other two worked at the distribution centre at the same address.

Metro lists cases of COVID-19 in employees of its stores and warehouses on its website

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Tinseltown: Where 50-year-old ‘tough guys’ become youngsters again





Audy Czigler wears glitter like a Pennsylvania miner wears coal dust. It’s on his face and hands, in his hair and on his clothing. It’s an occupational hazard that he says he just can’t get rid of.

And when he’s sifting through job applications from people wanting to work at his Tinseltown Christmas Emporium on Somerset Street W. in Hintonburg, the glitter is a consideration. For he’s not looking for people who can simply endure it; no, he’s screening for people who revel and carouse in glitter, for those for whom the 10,000th playing of I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus is as refreshing as the first, for those who believe that the 12 days of Christmas last 365 days a year. The believers.

Sure, he has heard the voices of skeptical passersby on the sidewalk outside his shop, especially in the summer months when visions of sugarplums have receded from many people’s minds.

“I hear them out there a few times a day,” he says, “wondering how a Christmas store can possibly survive year-round.

“I want to go out and tell them,” he adds, but his voice trails off as a customer approaches and asks about an ornament she saw there recently, of a red cardinal in a white heart. Where is it?

There’s scant room for sidewalk skeptics now, crowded out by the dozens of shoppers who, since October, have regularly lined up outside the store, patiently biding their time (and flocks) as pandemic-induced regulations limit the shop to 18 customers at a time.

Once inside, visitors will be forgiven for not first noticing the glitter, or even the rendition of Baby, It’s Cold Outside playing on the speakers. For there’s no specific “first thing” you notice. The first thing you notice is EVERYTHING — a floor-to-ceiling cornucopia of festivity, reminiscent perhaps of how the blind man in the Gospel of John may have felt when Jesus rubbed spit and mud in his eyes and gave him sight for the first time.

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