Burnaby resident reunites with family after 53 years

Vernon waiting for the arrival of his three daughters at Vancouver International Airport

Vernon waiting for the arrival of his three daughters at Vancouver International Airport

Three names and three birthdates on a four-inch square piece of paper is how the Restoring Family Links (RFL) program helped Vernon Milford Wilson reunite with his daughters after 53 years.  

For over ten years, Vernon’s wife Pat had tried various ways to help her husband reconnect with his lost family but was never successful until a colleague at work recommended the Red Cross.  After sharing her story with a Canadian Red Cross RFL coordinator, Vernon’s three daughters were located in Australia and New Zealand through the Australian Red Cross.    The daughters had tried roughly thirty years earlier to find their father, including connecting with the Canadian Embassy and calling every Vernon Wilson in the Vancouver area but their persistence and determination led to no results.   They assumed their father had passed away and ended their search.  The family is still in disbelief that the Red Cross was able to reconnect them after so many years.  

“We are so grateful to the Red Cross for finding my husband’s family.  Restoring Family Links is just amazing,” said Pat.  

Laura and Vernon's first hug after 53 years

Laura and Vernon's first hug after 53 years

After many weeks of emails and phone calls, Vernon’s children visited their father in Vancouver.  The emotional reunion was evident to onlookers at the airport as the newly reunited family hugged and cried.  For the next three weeks that followed, the family reconnected, shared stories and grew together as a family, along with two half-sisters who reside on Vancouver Island.

“We never thought the Red Cross offered a program like this.  We are so glad a service like this exists or else we would have not known our father at all.  This program gives hope to many people who are looking for their loved ones,” said Maree, Vernon’s second-born daughter.

(L-R) Aloma, Laura, Vernon, and Maree

(L-R) Aloma, Laura, Vernon, and Maree

This amazing story is just one of many that the Red Cross Restoring Family Links program is part of.  Working with over 187 Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies around the world, the program helps many families reconnect with loved ones.

Pat and Vernon not only gained three daughters in their lives, but also eight grandchildren, thirteen great grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.