Second case of babies switched in Canadian hospital shakes community

Fri Aug 26, 2016 5:30pm EDT
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - For the second time in less than a year, two men from the same remote Canadian community have discovered they were switched at birth, prompting outrage and new questions about substandard healthcare for Canada's indigenous people.

David Tait and Leon Swanson were swapped in the government-run Norway House Hospital in 1975 in the western Canadian province of Manitoba, DNA testing confirmed.

"I want answers so bad," Tait said, choking back tears at a press conference in Winnipeg on Friday. He added that he felt "distraught, confused (and) angry."

Tait's biological mother ended up raising Swanson instead, and Swanson's birth mother raised Tait, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp reported.

Norway House is made up of two northern Manitoba communities and has a population of about 5,000 predominantly indigenous Cree Nation people. It is accessible by airplane and a long indirect road linking it with Winnipeg, about 500 miles (800 km) to the south.

In November, the Manitoba government said two other men who were close friends were also switched at birth in 1975, at the same Norway House Hospital. As they grew up, people noticed how they resembled each other's family more than their own.

Eric Robinson, a former Manitoba cabinet minister who is helping the men in the latest case, said there were always suspicions in the community about their parentage. He suspects there are more undiscovered cases.

"The federal government owes these people," he told reporters. "What happened to them is criminal."   Continued...