Bias claim over seizure of Indige­nous new­born girl

National Post (Latest Edition) - - CANADA - Steve lamBert

WINNIPEG • Two so­cial me­dia videos show a new­born baby girl be­ing taken from the arms of her Indige­nous mother by Man­i­toba so­cial work­ers and po­lice — an ap­pre­hen­sion that First Na­tions lead­ers say is all too com­mon in a child-wel­fare sys­tem bi­ased against Abo­rig­i­nals.

The videos, broad­cast live Thurs­day on Face­book by the woman’s un­cle, show her sit­ting in a hos­pi­tal bed, cradling her baby and rock­ing back and forth as so­cial work­ers and po­lice ex­plain that the baby is be­ing taken into care.

The woman is cry­ing softly and be­ing hugged by rel­a­tives, one of whom is wail­ing in sor­row. Even­tu­ally, po­lice place the new­born into a car seat and take her away.

The mother is not told when she might see her baby again.

Sta­tis­tics from the Man­i­toba gov­ern­ment show new­born ap­pre­hen­sions oc­cur, on av­er­age, about once a day in the prov­ince. About 90 per cent of kids in care are Indige­nous.

“The sys­tem that we’re sub­ject to is not a sys­tem for our peo­ple,” Grand Chief Gar­ri­son Set­tee, who rep­re­sents north­ern Man­i­toba First Na­tions, said Fri­day at a news con­fer­ence with the mother, her fam­ily and other com­mu­nity lead­ers. “We want to take back our ba­bies be­cause they be­long to us. They be­long ... in their own cul­ture, in their own so­ci­eties, among their own peo­ple.”

The woman, her baby, and other fam­ily mem­bers can­not be iden­ti­fied un­der Man­i­toba law.

The child was taken away be­cause of a false ac­cu­sa­tion that the mother was drunk when she ar­rived at the hos­pi­tal to give birth, the woman’s aunt said.

Cora Morgan, a fam­ily ad­vo­cate for the Assem­bly of Man­i­toba Chiefs, said the mother may have been tar­geted for a “birth alert” — a note to so­cial work­ers that an ex­pec­tant mother is high risk — be­cause she had an­other daugh­ter who was tem­po­rar­ily in care sev­eral years ago.

JOHN WOODS / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

A woman holds a photo of a baby and an ea­gle feather at a press con­fer­ence in sup­port of the mother whose new­born baby was seized from hos­pi­tal by Man­i­toba’s Child and Fam­ily Ser­vices (CFS) in Winnipeg on Fri­day.

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