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Dec 11, 2023
Unwed mothers from the 1940s to ’70s were often shamed into giving their babies up, says non-profit
In a theatre in St. John’s, N.L., a murmur spreads through the audience as people timidly raise their hands. They have been asked if they saw their own stories reflected in the film they just watched — “A Quiet Girl.”
The National Film Board documentary by Montreal director Adrian Wills follows him as he searches for his biological mother in her home province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Each step closer to his mother takes him deeper into the history of adoption in the province, where many unwed pregnant women in deeply Christian towns surrendered their babies to be brought up by someone else.
“What people said to us afterwards was, ‘My God, this is my cousin’s story, this is my sister’s story, this is our story,’” Wills said in a recent interview after screenings in central Newfoundland. “It was really emotional … so many people want to tell you their stories.”