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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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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa




With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV




A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence




Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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