Film Sur Les Réunionnais De La Creuse

In the 1960s and 1970s an ext than 1,600 kids were take away from the Indian Ocean island of Reunion to repopulate rural france — many du them without your parents" consent.

Vous lisez ce: Film sur les réunionnais de la creuse


One night in 2013, a french woman named Sylvie was alone in her home, staring at elle computer display while sa husband Patrick was out with their children. She was watching a documentary that her daughter's godfather had told elle about called A Childhood in Exile, which concerned a tragic yet little-known illustration of french postcolonial history.

"From the first bar of music and the archival images, je understood the this was mien past that was being told to je — cette was obvious," Sylvie recounted. "Tears started streaming down ma cheeks."

Standing in her apartment overlooking auto port de Toulon on auto south côte of France, sylvie told nouvelles that the cinématique was auto key à a mystère she had actually been trying venir solve pour decades. Watching thé documentary, she finally understood quel had happened to her 45 years ago, when she and other children were snatched indigenous the island of Réunion — a french overseas region in thé Indian ocean — et sent to the mainland for a new life.

Today, this tragic chapter of français history is finally being investigated par the Ministry de Overseas France.

Sylvie, who was attaché in 1967 et is known oui "Sissi" to her friends, is one of at the very least 1,615 youngsters who French authorities removed from auto island et resettled in mainland France. Auto purpose du the resettlement was à help populate the country's rural areas, such as the creuser department in quartier général France, i beg your pardon were greatly uninhabited.

Some du the kids who to be resettled were orphans, but many others, consisting of Sylvie, had been snatched from their parents.

"They didn't give my biological mother Adrienne a chanceux to store me," she said. "On thé grounds that my mother was poor, a girlfriend reported her to thé DDASS for instability and poverty," elle explained, including that her mother "really loved sa children" and that there to be "a parcelle of love" in the household.

The "friend" in question was actually the wife de Sylvie's organic father, demonstrating for argent that "the 'metros' to be not thé only mauvais guys."

"I was then placed in a nursery run de nuns with ma older brother, Jean-Bernard," she remembers. "My mère tried à come and see us at thé nursery à take nous back, cible was never ever able to. They refused because she didn't ont a job. Some women were impede from gaining their kids back seulement because lock smoked."

"After that, me et JB to be flown to the mainland," elle continued. Auto year to be 1971, et Sylvie was three months away from turning four. Sa brother to be a year older. Neither du them ever before saw their birth mother again.

The resettlement scheme was thé brainchild of michel Debré, a prominent français politician who played a principale part in auto writing of the structure of the Fifth Republic and became its first compton minister. Hey served oui a deputy à la Réunion native 1963 to 1988.

Debré hatched auto scheme when cette took office on auto island, explained french sociologist Philippe Vitale, who heads auto Committee nous Children du the Creuse.

"Too numerous young people were leaving la campagne areas nous the mainland, such as the Creuse, Tarn, and Lozère ," Vitale told News, "and at the same time, Réunion was struggling venir keep up with a demographic boom."

Debré believed the island's rapid growth posed a threat à its future. His systems was facile enough: resettle people from the impoverished island to auto mainland. In 1963, "Papa Debré," ont he was known à the islanders, collection up the BUMIDOM (Office for the advancement of migration in overseas Departments) to organize the relocation de adult islanders, who were promised a better life conditions météorologiques the mainland.

But willing adult weren't the seulement un ones that ended up taking aller in the scheme. Jeune islanders were also resettled, cible authorities retained quiet around those transfers.

Working very closely with auto DDASS, auto government organized the en mouvement of islanders to the depopulated internal known ont the "French desert," including children in between the ages ns six months et 21 years that were born à poor families nous the island. Some of the children were forcibly removed from their parents, who never consented to their resettlement, and their files were later uncovered to ont been forged by the authorities.

"Adrienne didn't know comment to read jaune write," sylvie said of her mother. She doesn't believe Adrienne knowingly abandoned sa children. "All de these children's files were forged. Pour example, i know kids who were attaché twice according venir their file. Once in Réunion, and then again nous the mainland."

Vitale claimed that officials lied to parent to to convince them to aller with their kids. Numerous ended increase working ont farmhands jaune servants parce que le French families.

"They to be told that their youngsters would be temporarily taken care of, long enough à la them to get back nous their feet," he explained. "But a année later, as soon as they wanted to comprendre their children back, auto children to be already tarif away nous the mainland, without any possibility de returning."

Félicien, Sylvie's organic father, spent a good part de his life trying unsuccessfully à find his two missing children.

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This shameful chapter has left indelible marks on thé lives ns hundreds du children who prospered up into perdu adults. Vitale, who has endroit many du the 1,615 children who were sent to auto mainland, described auto people he had met as "broken par this history." A alors of them, hey said, "burst right into tears when they parlez their story."

Sylvie, one ns the kids who was taken away from thé island et from her parents venir be resettled in France. (Photo de Pierre Longeray/ News)

Sylvie and her brother landed in la france on February 6, 1971. While elle memories ns the day space somewhat débarque — she was no yet four at thé time — argent does remember getting here at Orly airport stripped of the clothes she had to be wearing, which had belonged to DDASS. At the airport, she et her brothers were introduced to a man et a woman. "Hello sir, hello madam," elle recalls whispering, seul to it is in told that, from now on, she would deal with them as "Mom and Dad."

The children and their nouveau parents climate headed to auto western city of Lorient, in Brittany. The coupler had decided à adopt after losing their life child, that died avant he turn one. Christian, thé husband, was the driving renforcer behind auto adoption, if his mam Claudine was originally reluctant. After auto death of sa adoptive mother, sylvie found the end that Claudine had actually requested "children that weren't also black."

"I didn't have a maman but année educator," sylvie remarked, noting Claudine was very strict et frequently disciplined her children through violence. "But JB was always there venir protect me. Once, hey even punched my mère when she was about à hit me."

Christian spent much de their childhood chasing est différent women avant being diagnosed through cancer. The family case quickly deteriorated when he became too sick à work, i m sorry forced sylvie to hold two jobs. Throughout that time, auto children often bore thé brunt of her frustration, with argent relying nous JB parce que le protection.

But in 1979, JB was sent to boarding school and 12-year-old sylvie was left alone with sa parents. In auto years the followed, fémur got darker.

One night, when sylvie was seulement 14, elle was patrie alone v Christian.

"I was used to sleeping in ma parents' bed when ns was little," claimed Sylvie, elle voice hesitant avant a an extensive pause. "Let's just say that je never must have."

Sylvie never ever told her adoptive mère that chrétien had sexually abused her, et informed JB seul last year.

Throughout sa difficult childhood, sylvie always feel there to be a missing piece of elle history. Christian and Claudine to be equally unaware of the government's scheme. Sylvie et JB were told that their mother had put them up pour adoption. "But je always knew other wasn't best — i just didn't know what," elle explained.

She started her sleuthing at the lâge of 20, when elle contacted an official at the town lobby in Saint-Denis, the administrative capital of Réunion. The government worker to be able venir provide sa the surname of elle biological mother, Adrienne. "I was finally told who my mère was," she remembers. This clue sent her on tireless quest to burned light on her background.

Years later, in 1998, elle discovered that elle mother had never signed année adoption deed. De then, both of her biological parents had died.

Over the artaserse of plenty of trips back to auto island, sylvie learned the she et JB were two of 11 siblings. She mettre some of sa brothers et sisters, discovered island culture, and learned Creole.

Little by little, a clearer snapshot started venir form. Auto documentary, she explained, was the définitif piece of the puzzle.

All these discoveries ressentir Sylvie right into a deep depression — haricot de soja deep, in fact, that elle has had to give up sa job ont a loger nurse.

Today, the seul place in the world where sylvie feels truly comfortable is the île of Réunion. She et her husband Patrick space hoping venir move there once she feel better. Castle hope à be living conditions météorologiques the island passant par 2017. "I want venir try and live there parce que le a year," she said, her face lighting up. "I want to savoir what it's favor to live there."

"When I'm there, je feel favor a fish that's to be put back in its tank," she remarked. "Here, next from mien children et grandchildren, first is bland."

Sylvie has paid pour her trips to Réunion herself, but she hopes that the government will certainly eventually administer financial faire un don to those like elle who wish venir visit jaune relocate to the île from i beg your pardon they were snatched.

The Committee nous Children of the Creuse is now focused conditions météorologiques collecting testimonies et information, and will take trip to Réunion in September. Ce hopes to complete its investigation within deux years, and meanwhile has set up an email address for those who were gotten rid of from the island between 1963 and 1981 venir help attach them with their families: lesenfantsdelacreuse

In 2014, the intérieur Assembly vote in favor ns a resolution to raise awareness over thé resettlement scandal et to à faire "everything in its énergie to help former wards rebuild their an individual history."

"It's a resolution," Vitale noted, "not a law. It's purely advisory."

For Sylvie, returning venir Réunion is thé natural next step.

"I don't feel favor I'm indigenous Brittany jaune from Toulon," elle said. "I un m very en colère at this system, i m sorry decided pour me that ns would it is in happier what else. In act this, france destroyed lives, massacred families."

Next year, argent will rotate 50. Elle intends venir spend thé rest du her years on the island.

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"Once I'm there," she declared, "there'll it is in nothing else ns need."

Follow roche Longeray on Twitter: news Franceenfants ns la creusebumidomchildren du the creuse investigative committeeddassmichel debréphilippe vitale

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