It was the dream of Françoise Ruperthouse’s father to learn what happened to his two missing children.
Tony and Emily Ruperthouse mysteriously disappeared from the same Amos, Que. hospital in separate cases in the late 1950s. The family was told that Tony had died at age two after he was admitted for pneumonia symptoms. Emily went missing after she was taken to the hospital for a bee sting.
“What did they do to my brother and sister?” questioned Françoise, one of 17 children in the Pikogan First Nation family, during the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls on Tuesday.
She’s still trying to find answers.
The family has since obtained documents from the Amos hospital stating Tony was diagnosed with bronchitis and pneumonia, but was “cured.”
The family also found out that both children had been transferred to a hospital in Baie-Saint-Paul – a 10-hour drive from Amos, Que. – and that Tony had actually died at seven years old, not age two.
It wasn’t until the 1990s when Françoise found Emily at that same hospital. She testified that authorities, who previously said they couldn’t reach her parents, had contacted the family because Emily was very ill with pneumonia.
As a child, Emily was bubbly, loud and would take off her moccasins to run barefoot in the summer, Françoise testified.
She showed a photo of her sister after the family found her. Emily is laying in a hospital bed in Baie-Saint-Paul, the back of her head appears flattened against the pillow. Once an active kid, Emily now laid in a coma. The family took turns using a wet sponge to moisten her mouth. Slowly, she improved and eventually opened her eyes.
“She looked at us. She recognized us,” said Françoise. “The first word she said was ‘mama.’”
Emily had a severe mental disability and could hardly speak except for the excited yells she would make when seeing her relatives. While the hospital resisted, the family fought to bring her home.
By the time they found Emily, their father had passed. Their mother is now 84 years old.
“It breaks my heart to know my mother had to suffer,” Françoise said.
They have yet to see any documents with answers as to why Emily was transferred – and why the parents weren’t notified.
Fanny Wylde, legal counsel for the inquiry, said the Amos and Baie-Saint-Paul hospitals have been subpoenaed for more information.
Françoise and her family think the “monster hospital” conducted experiments on the children.
“Is my brother really dead? I don’t know.”
More than 70 survivors and loved ones are expected to testify at the inquiry, which continues until Friday.