Dr. Darryl Leroux will discuss findings from his book Distorted Descent: White Claims to Indigenous Identity (University of Manitoba Press, 2019) that will be of particular interest to genealogists. An expert on French-Canadian genealogy, Dr. Leroux will focus on the genealogical mechanics that are leading an increasing number of white French-Canadians to identify as Indigenous. What he calls “practices of descent” explain how one must do something with certain ancestors to justify one’s nascent claims to an Indigenous identity. The three main practices of descent identified by Dr. Leroux are lineal descent, aspirational descent, and lateral descent, each of which provides amateur genealogists with the material to change certain ancestors’ identities to suit their own present-day interests.
Dr. Darryl Leroux is an associate professor in the Department of Social Justice and Community Studies at Saint Mary’s University. In 2019, he published Distorted Descent: White Claims to Indigenous Identity, which explores, in part, the genealogical mechanics at play in the phenomenon of self-indigenization. He has been researching the social and political dynamics of French-Canadian/Québécois genealogy for a decade, during which time he has published articles on the topic in academic journals such as Ethnic & Racial Studies, Journal of Critical Ethnic Studies, Social Studies of Science, and the American Indian Culture and Research Journal.
Upon learning at age sixteen that she was adopted, Susan’s keen interest, curiosity and determination would take her on a thirty plus year journey of search for answers. She had no idea how her story would unfold or where it would lead. She did not have a single name, just the date and place of her birth. The records of her adoption were closed. New York State adoptees have been denied access to their own birth records for decades.
Susan’s search for answers took her back to the place of her birth to Albany, to walking the streets of Manhattan, Brooklyn, to Toronto and even Ireland. As an adoptee, she had so many questions… Who did I look like? Who were my parents? Did I have siblings? This was such an important question for her for growing up an only child, or as she always referred to herself, a “Lonely Child.“
Susan will share the events and the amazing discoveries she made along the way. How DNA, Ancestry and other sites have aided in her search. With a lot of determination and hard work she has been able to put together the missing pieces of her own personal puzzle. She is no longer is that “lonely child” with the discovery of the much-wanted siblings she never knew she had.
Susan now knows the names of her parents, grandparents and cousins. She has the names of her biological ancestors and even a family tree that goes back generations.
Susan’s own search prompted a desire to help others by advocating for changes to New York’s adoption laws. On November 14, 2020 Governor Cuomo signed into law a bill allowing adoptees eighteen years of age to apply for their original birth certificates. To date it is estimated that over 20,000 adoptees have applied. That speaks volumes for the need and want for individuals to know the where they came from.
There is an old expression that goes: “If you do not know where you came from then you don’t know where you are going.” We should all have the right to answer the questions… Who Am I? Where Did I Come From?
Susan Moyer was born in Albany, New York and grew up in Syracuse, New York. She had a career in advertising and radio for many years as a copy writer, creative director, and radio commercial producer. Later she worked in special education. Susan is an author, speaker, and supporter and proponent for Adoptee Equal Rights. She has been married for 38 years to her husband, Paul, and lives in Rochester, New York where they raised their two sons.