Video shows Manitoba officials seizing baby from Indigenous mother
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.