Video shows Man­i­toba of­fi­cials seiz­ing baby from Indige­nous mother

The Globe and Mail (BC Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - STEVE LAM­BERT

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 child­wel­fare sys­tem bi­ased against Indige­nous peo­ple.

The videos, broad­cast live on 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 was 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 videos, which had been viewed more than 400,000 times by Fri­day af­ter­noon, of­fered a rare glimpse into a nor­mally pri­vate mat­ter and quickly led to calls for change.

“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 on 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.

The videos show fam­ily mem­bers telling so­cial work­ers the ac­cu­sa­tion was not true. They ask whether the baby could stay with one of them in­stead of be­ing taken away. The re­quest is de­nied.

The case file has been trans­ferred from Win­nipeg to an agency in the woman’s home com­mu­nity.

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