Norway House Cree Nation men switched at birth speaking out
Published Friday, August 26, 2016 10:13AM CST
Last Updated Saturday, August 27, 2016 12:17PM CST
Two men from Norway House Cree Nation who were switched at birth spoke publicly for the first time Friday.
For the second time within a year, DNA tests have revealed a case of two Manitoba men being switched at birth at the same remote hospital.
The most recent case involves Leon Swanson and David Tait from Norway House Cree Nation who were born three days apart in 1975 in a remote hospital in northern Manitoba.
"I don't know what to say," said Swanson during the news conference.
This isn't the first time this has happened at that hospital. Last November, DNA tests revealed that two other men -- Luke Monias and Norman Barkman of Garden Hill First Nation -- were also switched at birth.
Monias and Barkman were both born in the same rural hospital in June of 1975, five months after the men from Norway House were born.
After a switch at the hospital, they ended up being raised by each other's families.
Former Aboriginal Affairs Minister Eric Robinson, who also spoke at the news conference, said he wants an external firm to study what might have happened to cause two cases of men switch at birth.
"I can't imagine if this is anything more than criminal," said Robinson. He said community gossip led to suspicions men were switched.
Health Canada announced it is working to hire an independent third party to review documents from the hospital at the time when the incidents happened. The results of the review will be made public.
The department also said they will offer DNA testing to any individuals born at Norway House Hospital in the mid-1970s.
Health Canada said they have offered “mental and spiritual health supports” to the men and their families.
Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott released a statement, saying she was “deeply troubled” to learn about the second case of two men claiming to have been switched at birth.
“Cases like this are an unfortunate reminder to Canadians of how urgent the need is to provide all Indigenous people with high-quality health care,” she said.
Norway House Hospital now only performs emergency births, with about one birth performed every two months.