Canada outraged over indigenous switched babies

  • 27/08/2016
A man swapped at birth (ITV)
A man swapped at birth (ITV)

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 has confirmed.

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

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

Norway House is made up of two northern Manitoba communities and has a population of about 5000 predominantly indigenous Cree Nation people. It is accessible by plane and a long indirect road linking it with Winnipeg, about 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."

Canada's health department operates the Norway House hospital.