Bias claim over seizure of Indigenous newborn girl
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.
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.