• Jake

Finding a brother: A Historic Article by Eric Huggard


Father Lard took me away from my mother's place in 1932. I was four years old, they just took me. Said Frances Motz, now 66 years old. She was in Atlin after meeting William Campbell, the brother she never knew existed. William, 56 now lives in Whitehorse. It was a tearful, joyous meeting for them both, and for the rest of the Taku River Tlingits.


Frances cam North to find her family after being separated and sent to residential school. “I stayed there until 1933. From there I was sent to the orphanage, until 1937, because my mother had tuberculosis. Then they shipped me to St. Academy, a convent in Nanaimo”


“My father died in 1934, I didn't know, I was in the orphanage. In 1935 I got my last letter from my mother. She died May 22, 1935, here or in Telegraph. Nobody explained anything, they said I was an orphan and that was it. When Christmas came everybody got presents but us, (sister) Betty and I.” William and Frances' sister Lizzy, or Elizabeth, died of cancer in 1946.


“I went to a hostel home for a job when I was 15. I worked for an American couple for six months. Then for Judge Murphy, I did housecleaning. At 16 I worked in the Cave nightclub in Vancouver. I met my husband when I was 17, we were married in 1944. We have three boys and a girl.”


“My kids asked; 'Where is my grand-mother?” I said you have no grandmother. I was very lonely, I felt like a lost sheep.”


“They always told me I was half Scot, that was a lie. My grandfather was an Indian. Patty Ward was my grandfather, I came to Atlin to find out who they were, my grandfather and grandmother. My grandfather was a trapper, William lived with my grandfather.”


Finding her family was a process which took Frances several years. “I knew I belonged in Atlin because of my birth certificate. I was at the Tahltan assembly last year, I didn't know anybody. They changed my name from Fanny to Frances. Lucy Frame looked for me for 6 years. She found me through my son Wayne, in Fort St. John, who was trying to get status. She told me I have relatives here (Telegraph Creek) and in Atlin.”


“My youngest son came to Watson Lake. He said 'I know Harry Campbell. Is he your cousin?' I talked to Harry last year in Prince Rupert. He said 'you've got cousins from here to Atlin.”


“I was in Dease Lake last year, we went fishing. There was a sea plane on the lake. The pilot, Mr. Davis, he said to me 'Are you Willy Campbell's sister? Are you one of the Campbells?So Frances put the pieces together and came to Atlin, where she met her brother for the first time. She learned about her grandparents and parents, who they were, what they did. And she received a very warm reception from families friends in Atlin. It was a joyful, tearful meeting.


But the meeting also brought back the years of separation, and the pain of a family-life never had. “I feel hateful to the people who took me away. It hurts inside what they did; just kidnap me and take me away from my mother. After all them years, I couldn't believe how people are so mean” said Frances with tears in her eyes.


Although overjoyed to meet his sister, William also had mixed feelings: “Well, I don;t feel too good, I didn't know I had a sister for all those years”.


Taku River Tlingit chief Andy Williams was on hand to offer his support. “When I learned of Frances' dilemma, I was overjoyed when she was united with her brother. I feel they have both learned the traditional values of the family unit. “The government of the day, consciously or unconsciously, separated brother and sister. This is what happens- families and Nations are broken up. But we are still here, and we are meant to be here. We feel very injured as a Nation that we had to submit to such Apartheid measures.”


Chief Williams continued: “Before the white man came, the first order of the Government were the Aboriginal Nations. They are going to have to take into consideration the Aboriginal Nations and learn how to take care of the environment. I will be turning this over to our legal department, we will pursue it.”


Former Chief Sylvester Jack said “We will be seeking compensation for the damage that has been done to these people. We will pursue it under the Charter of Rights If they if they can give compensation to the Japanese, I see no reason why we can't get it. I cried with these people, it hurts me to talk about it. Seeing them together makes me happy.”


Both the present and former Chiefs pointed out that what happened to Frances Motz and William Campbell was not an isolated incident. “We were all taken, 1200 miles to Burns Lake. We weren't allowed to practice our language culture and traditions said Chief Williams.

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