October 22, 2018

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Second case of Norway House babies switched at birth

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>In 2015, Luke Monias (right) and Norman Barkman learned they had been switched at birth. Now a second case has come to light.</p>

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNPEG FREE PRESS FILES

In 2015, Luke Monias (right) and Norman Barkman learned they had been switched at birth. Now a second case has come to light.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/8/2016 (788 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Indigenous leaders say two men from a northern Manitoba First Nation have evidence showing they were switched at birth -- the second such alleged mix-up in the mid-1970s at the same federally run hospital.

David Tait, Jr. and Leon Swanson, 41, of Norway House Cree Nation, will reveal details of a DNA test which proved they were switched at birth in 1975 at the maternity ward in the federally-run Norway House Indian Hospital, a spokesman for former NDP aboriginal affairs minister Eric Robinson said.

The news comes less than a year after DNA tests proved that childhood friends Norman Barkman and Luke Monias, 41, both of Garden Hill First Nation, were switched at birth after being born at the same hospital on June 19, 1975.

Barkman, angular and slight, looked strikingly like Monias’s dad; and Monias looked a lot like Barkman’s family. All that sparked gossip in the community, but a DNA test at a Winnipeg facility confirmed the gossip was true.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/8/2016 (788 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Indigenous leaders say two men from a northern Manitoba First Nation have evidence showing they were switched at birth — the second such alleged mix-up in the mid-1970s at the same federally run hospital.

David Tait, Jr. and Leon Swanson, 41, of Norway House Cree Nation, will reveal details of a DNA test which proved they were switched at birth in 1975 at the maternity ward in the federally-run Norway House Indian Hospital, a spokesman for former NDP aboriginal affairs minister Eric Robinson said.

The news comes less than a year after DNA tests proved that childhood friends Norman Barkman and Luke Monias, 41, both of Garden Hill First Nation, were switched at birth after being born at the same hospital on June 19, 1975.

Barkman, angular and slight, looked strikingly like Monias’s dad; and Monias looked a lot like Barkman’s family. All that sparked gossip in the community, but a DNA test at a Winnipeg facility confirmed the gossip was true.

Barkman, Monias and Robinson called on the federal government (Health Canada in particular) to launch an investigation in November of 2015.

Health Minister Jane Philpott told the Free Press in a statement in 2015 that she was "very concerned to learn of this issue."

"I have asked my department officials to look into the matter immediately and to reach out to the families involved," she said. "I can assure Canadians that Health Canada will look into the concerns that have been raised by Mr. Barkman and Mr. Monias."

A press conference with the Tait, Swanson, Robinson and several Norway House band councillors will occur at Norway House Cree Nation offices in Winnipeg on Friday morning.

Robinson said the two latest victims to find they were switched at birth both still live in Norway House, and there have long been questions in the community about their ancestry.

Their families are coping as best they can, Robinson said, but they are in turmoil because their lives have been torn apart.

One of the fathers is an elder who shares the same name as his son.

"The boy he raised is known as Junior," Robinson said.

"They’re upset and (saying), ‘How can this happen?’ They are confused and there is a bit of anger."

When the first mix-up came to light, Robinson and others called on the federal government to investigate. Counselling was offered but no action appears to have been taken, Robinson said.

"This matter was just swept under the rug."

Now, he and the Norway House First Nation are renewing the call for an inquiry so the families get the answers they deserve. The federal government must appoint an independent body to conduct a thorough investigation, Robinson suggested.

If this happened to four newborns at the same hospital, he asked, how many other indigenous babies were also switched at birth?

"Other cases may come forward," he said. "Twice in the same year in the same hospital with indigenous kids? It makes you question."

Norway House is a community of 8,000 about 800 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

— with files from Canadian Press

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History

Updated on Thursday, August 25, 2016 at 5:26 PM CDT: Updated, adds photo.

9:21 PM: Corrects spelling of David Tait, Jr.

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