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Strangers to sisters: Abbotsford neighbours discover they are related

DNA research leads to discovery that acquaintances have the same father
Abbotsford neighbours and acquaintances Beth (left) and Shayna Davison have recently reconnected after decades of not knowing they existed. The right side of the picture is Beth and her two siblings in earlier days. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)

For years, Shayna Davison would go on a daily walk from her home at the Blue Ridge Apartments on Tessaro Crescent in Abbotsford.

On those regular strolls, Davison would pass by a neighbouring house and engage in small talk with a friendly woman who resided there.

They’d say hello to each other, talk about the weather and give attention to Davison’s dog.

Both women told The News that something drew them to each other on those chance encounters. A sense of closeness seemed to naturally occur between the pair, but it was never anything more than two acquaintances briefly chatting.

Years later as a pandemic raged on and COVID-19 forced many people into their homes, Davison received a Facebook message from her older sister saying, “Sissy, we need to talk.”

Moments later Davison entered a FaceTime chat with her sister and another woman, whom she quickly recognized as the same person she would encounter on Tessaro Crescent. What her sister said next changed Davison’s life forever.

“Sissy, this is our sister,” she said.

It was during that conversation that it was revealed that Davison’s niece had submitted her DNA for ancestry research and made a number of remarkable discoveries. Davison’s father had an entire separate family and had children with another woman before meeting their mother.

Davison and her sisters had never known they had three other half-sisters – one of whom was Beth Davison, the very same woman that she had interacted with so many years ago on Tessaro Crescent. Neither Beth nor Shayna had any idea their new half-sister had lived in the same city for so many years or that they had spoken many times before.

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“We did recognize each other and I just kind of said, ‘Hi, nice to meet you,’ ” Shayna said, laughing as she recalled the unique introduction. “We instantly noticed we had a lot in common. We like the same music, we both love animals and to laugh at our sisters. We’ve only known each other for a few weeks but we are already finishing each other’s sentences.”

They went on to discover their father had three children apiece with their mothers. Shayna’s full siblings are Katrina and April. Beth’s are Rosemary and Brenda. Unfortunately, both Brenda and April have passed away. Katrina is now located in St. Catharines, Ont. and Rosemary is in Saskatoon, Sask.

Their father is no longer in any of their lives and the pair believe he may have other children spread out across the country. According to the sisters, their father was married at least five times.

Beth said the discovery of her new siblings has brought more meaning to her life.

“Now I feel like I’m not so alone anymore because I can pick up the phone now and call my sister anytime,” she said. “We’ve become very close, very fast.”

Shayna agreed and said it’s given her a better understanding of herself.

“For me, a circle has been fulfilled because I’ve always wondered about my father,” she said. “I knew he was married before because my mother had told me, so I always wondered if there were older siblings out there. It made me feel not so alone anymore. Like she said, I can now pick up the phone and talk to her anytime.”

A full reunion of the four living sisters was scheduled to take place in Abbotsford on Sunday, Aug. 15. Rosemary and Katrina, along with many other family members from both sides of the family, gathered at Beth’s house. More activities were planned for Monday, Aug. 16.

Both sisters stated that this discovery was a bright light in what has been a terrible time for so many living through the pandemic, and it was all thanks to technology that the connection could be made.

“There’s been all sorts of bad news with the pandemic and for us to come across each other it’s been such good news for us,” Shayna said. “I feel really happy that the during the pandemic this research was done and I feel like my family is finally completed.”

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Beth and her sisters Rosemary and Brenda from their younger days. (Submitted)
Beth and her sisters Rosemary and Brenda from their younger days. (Submitted)
Beth and Shayna Davison are now very close after discovering they are half-sisters. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Shayna’s sister Katrina (shown here in a recent pic) will be attending the family reunion later this month. (Submitted)

Ben Lypka

About the Author: Ben Lypka

I joined the Abbotsford News in 2015.
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