Manitoba RCMP say no crime committed when Indigenous men switched at birth – CP

Source: The Canadian Press
Aug 31, 2017

NORWAY HOUSE, Man. _ Manitoba RCMP say no charges will be laid after an investigation into two cases of babies switched at birth at a northern Manitoba hospital more than 40 years ago.

The four men went home with different parents from the federally run Norway House Indian Hospital in 1975. The RCMP and the federal government launched separate investigations after the men went public with the mix-ups following DNA tests.

RCMP spokesman Robert Cyrenne says the Mounties reviewed medical records and interviewed family members and hospital employees.

“There is no evidence a criminal offence was committed in relation to these incidents,” he said in a statement Thursday.

When the second case came to light a year ago, former health minister Jane Philpott called the situation tragic and appalling, and promised to get to the bottom of what happened. The results of the federal investigation have not yet been made public.

Luke Monias and Norman Barkman of Garden Hill First Nation, a fly-in community 400 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, revealed in November 2015 that DNA tests proved they were switched at birth.

Two other men from Norway House Cree Nation, Leon Swanson and David Tait Jr., came forward with the same story in August 2016. Results from DNA tests confirmed their switch.

The two cases raised the question of whether other babies could have ended up with the wrong families. Health Canada reports 239 babies were born at the hospital in 1975, but no other cases have come to light.

At an emotional news conference a year ago, Tait Jr. said he was desperately searching for answers.

“Forty years gone,” he said, barely able to speak through his tears. “It’s pretty tough. It hit me like a ton of bricks. If anything, (I’m) angry, confused, upset. I’d like to get some answers on what’s going on.”

DNA evidence confirmed that Tait Jr., 41, is the son of Charlotte Mason _ the woman who raised Swanson as her son _ and not Frances Tait. They also confirmed that Swanson, Tait Jr.’s life-long friend, is the biological son of Frances Tait.

Monias and Barkman were born on the same day and, growing up, the two were often told they looked more like the other boy’s family.

Manitoba’s former Aboriginal affairs minister Eric Robinson, who acted as a liaison for the families, suggested the mix-up was an act of racism and neglect.

“You can pass it off once,” Robinson said last October. “And a second time … kinda makes you wonder.”


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