By Lee Waters
Daniel Frost, 46, grew up with a British accent and a busy life in the UK, but he was not born there. He was born Darin Maurice to a Metis family and adopted as an infant from North Saskatchewan. Frost learned this and much more as he began seriously looking for his birth family last year.
Growing up in the United Kingdom, Frost was known as “the little brown boy.” He was often mistaken as Spanish, Italian, or even Jewish because of his skin colour, reported APTN. His parents were open with him, and he knew he was indigenous. “Most people in Europe kind of think that First Nation or Native people are no longer around. They’re found in history books,” Frost told APTN.While visiting friends in Toronto in the 1990’s, Frost noticed a different reaction to his appearance. “It was the first time I experienced any kind of recognition of who I was. It was both in a good way and a bad way,” he said. Approached on the street, some asked if he was Cree. “I also had other people who were like ‘We know about your people. You’re all alcoholics,’” but he wasn’t totally dissuaded, Frost explained to APTN. “In a way, it was quite life-fulfilling, even the bad stuff, because you’re understanding who I am.”
Sometime after that trip, Frost made his first attempt to find his birth family and received a package from Saskatchewan, Canada. It included a handwritten note from his mother, addressed “my darling son.” “I was quite overwhelmed by it,” Frost told APTN. “Someone else was calling me her son.” He stopped his search and ended up losing the note in a fire. “I’m not sure I was mature enough to handle it at the time.”
When Frost started his search again, his birth parents had both died, but he found his birth sister Edna Smith, who sent him photos of his siblings. He discovered he had thirteen brothers and sisters, two of which were deceased. “Suddenly, I saw people looking back at me that looked like me. I’ve even got a brother that looks like me. It’s something that is quite extraordinary,” he told APTN.
Daniel Frost was one of thousands of indigenous children caught up in the ’60’s Scoop, displacing and separating families all across Canada. Frost’s birth sister Edna Smith was also adopted by a British family, but they stayed in Saskatchewan. “I have a sister in BC. I have a sister in Washington [State]. I have a sister in Red Deer, one in North Battleford, a brother in Saskatoon, two brothers in Calgary, a brother in Regina, a brother in Dillon and Dan,” said Smith.
Frost and Smith both used social media to find their family members, and Frost is now using the internet crowd-funding platform GoFundMe to raise funds to return to Canada and visit his birth family. Crowd-funding platforms like GoFundMe are powerful tools in connecting those in need with those who want to give, forging partnerships, and enabling projects that may otherwise have not been possible.
Frost is not the only one taking advantage of the new digital age to reunite with his lost family. Lori Campbell, Metis, spent a grueling 23 years searching for her family. It wasn’t until she used Facebook that she was able to make some real progress. According to Huffington Post, Campbell posted a photo on Facebook detailing her missing brother’s name and date of birth. “I remember always looking for someone who looked like me,” she told the Huffington Post. “There was always this sense that I was dropped in the middle of nowhere and my life began when I was two.”
Adopted by a white family, the Regina-born Metis woman was put into foster care at 14-months-old. She spent the first half of her life feeling confused and slightly out of place. While looking for her biological mother, she discovered she had seven younger siblings. Five brothers and one sister were placed in foster care or put up for adoption. Campbell keeps a large binder full of details and documents she’s gathered over the years. “This is how I know who I am,” she told Huffington Post. “This is how I know how much I weighed when I was born, what my smile was like.”
To her surprise, the social media searches have prompted a lot of other people to contact her, too. Campbell has been in touch with over 75 people also looking for their birth families and has nearly another hundred awaiting reply. “[There are] all these people who don’t know who they are,” Campbell said.
Unfortunately, over half of children under 15 in foster care are Aboriginal, one of many ramifications still affecting the Aboriginal population after the ’60’s Scoop. With some luck and perseverance, many other adopted children could reunite with their birth families through the help of social media.