Forty-year old Canadian buddies learn they were switched a birth

Fri Nov 13, 2015 9:58pm EST
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Two Canadian men who grew up as close friends made the shocking discovery this year that they were switched at birth 40 years ago, the government of the Canadian province of Manitoba said on Friday.

Luke Monias and Norman Barkman were born June 19, 1975 in the twin northern Manitoba communities known as Norway House, and grew up on the Garden Hill reserve, which now has a population of about 2,800 and is accessible only by airplane and ice roads.

As they grew up, people noticed how they resembled each other's family more than their own, the Manitoba government said in a statement.

DNA testing this summer confirmed that the woman who raised Barkman is not his biological mother, and that Monias is actually her child by birth. Barkman's true biological mother is deceased.

"I just want to know what happened," Barkman told reporters in Winnipeg.

Monias contacted Manitoba's minister for aboriginal and northern affairs, Eric Robinson, in July and the Manitoba government has since asked Ottawa to investigate how the switch happened. Canada's health department, which operated the Norway House hospital, could not immediately comment.

"This horrible and irresponsible mix-up at the hospital has caused long-term damage to both these men and their families,” Robinson said, adding that it has affected their health.

In February, a court in France ruled that two women switched at birth more than 20 years ago will both receive 400,000 euros ($429,280) in damages.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Alden Bentley)