'Blindsided:' Manitoba officials seize newborn from mother in hospital - APTN NewsAPTN News

‘Blindsided:’ Manitoba officials seize newborn from mother in hospital

Ashley Brandson
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 Indigienous peoples.

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.

“The video itself was disturbing and raised a number of questions, obviously, for anybody who saw it,” Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott said in an interview Friday.

“It certainly begs the question as to whether or not this family was treated in a way where the unity of the family and the bond between parent and child was respected as something that had to be taken into serious consideration.”

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 video segments, which had been viewed more than 400,000 times by Friday afternoon, offered a rare glimpse into a normally private matter. They also display a biased child welfare system, according to Indigenous leaders.

“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 baby 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.

All the while, the mother is sitting on her hospital bed, cradling her baby. She recalled getting strength from her infant daughter.

“I was blindsided … and it’s just astonishing how far this had to go,” she said.

“When I was holding my baby, she was actually the one who was keeping me content and strong and focused. And I’m still holding on to that.”

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.

The woman had previously sought help for addictions and with parenting from Child and Family Services, Morgan said, but was not intoxicated when she arrived at the hospital to give birth.

The General Child and Family Services Authority, which oversees the social workers involved, would not reveal details of the case Friday, but stood by its decision.

“Apprehending a child is a very difficult decision, and is done only as a last resort and when required to ensure children are kept safe,” authority chief executive officer Debbie Besant said in a written statement.

“I have personally reviewed this file in detail and met with the agency staff involved, including the director of the agency. I am confident in the decisions made.”

The federal government has promised new legislation this year aimed at keeping more Indigenous families together, and Philpott said consultations to date have raised recurring themes.

“One of the specific things that we heard from people is that the emphasis has to be on prevention, and to look for every possible way that we can support families to be together.”

The mother, meanwhile, is optimistic she might be reunited with her daughter shortly. The case file has been transferred from Winnipeg to an agency in the woman’s home community.

“I’m very hopeful things are going to work out in a positive way.”



-with files from the Canadian Press

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10 Responses to “‘Blindsided:’ Manitoba officials seize newborn from mother in hospital”

  1. y*****@gmail.com'
    Greg Ichshenko March 9, 2019 at 12:10 am #

    Oh, these officials were harsh for no apparent reason. I don’t support this, and neither do my essay writing friends. I hope that these officials face some repercussions, otherwise, this is bound to happen again.

  2. joannehusak123@gmail.com'
    Joe January 17, 2019 at 6:00 pm #

    All the armchair critics. We only have one side of the story. The Ministry can never give theirs because of privacy issues for the family.

  3. lisa.shalfoun@gmail.com'
    Lisa January 17, 2019 at 3:49 am #

    Shocking what they did and the way they did it. A newborn taken by a cop with guns and all on him?? SHAME ON YOU!

  4. Spirit_lady86@outlook.com'
    Samantha January 14, 2019 at 4:18 am #

    The child family services is jus lookin at the money cuz each children they take is more money for them true facts % they care what they do to the family but only care for the money sad but true tis have to stop and we all should fight to take our children back into our care..once they took my children away from me they give me no chance . True facts !!!

  5. Daniellelpelletier@hotmail.ca'
    Danielle January 14, 2019 at 1:55 am #

    If there is family there than they should take the baby home it’s called customary care, If no problems or assumptions of their ability to care. Send the foster parents in the homes to assist and coparent with families instead of giving all responsibility and support resources to foster parents and taking all responsibility away. Kids truly do suffer leaving their homes and communities whether it’s a good or bad situation. I’ve seen it for years and once they old enough to talk and act out they do love and want their moms and dads and families. In the event the child must go into care then work on immediate reunification with family or close community that same day or next and also immediate therapy for child too. There are community homes were I am that help these situations. So I would start community homes to help take on the care of your community. No pun intended, foster parents are great for taking time but not all. All agencies may mean well but the long term affects are heartbreaking. We need another plan. 60’s scoop over years ago and in away still hear. My own opinion. It takes a community to raise a child so take care of them hard. Make a plan with your community if you are aware of a hospital alert. When babies do not bond right after birth., they have a number of social and emotional, spiritual and physical life long problems. Separation and anxiety, rejection, content, security, emotion attachment, addictions, acting out behaviours,failure to thrive, depression, trust., hate, and the words of pain can go on. Their identity is broke an we wonder Why” this child acts out as a youth, teen adult. This chief is right our children should be back in our own communities. This hurts my heart I know the struggles of rebuilding the relationship or any other relationships for that matter later in life. The parent feels so insignificant or so broken that sometimes can’t get there lives back together and walk away.
    The system is definitely off they r not attached to the child like a family or community has. Hoping strongly that the services are in the best interest of the child and the whole family of the child.

  6. jim.olwell@gmail.com'
    James F. Olwell January 13, 2019 at 7:52 pm #

    In Manitoba, 90% of children in care are indigenous.
    In Québec we call that ultra over-representation of 1 group in the system ( I do not say this to vaunt the Qhebec system).
    It reeks of a severe structural and other problems, in the provision of care of children and their families.
    Here’s breaking news : Children belong with their mothers.
    There needs to be continuous coverage of this particular case for it’s own sake as well as for what it teaches us about the entire system in Manitoba.

  7. tracylynnewynnyk@gmail.com'
    Tracy Wynnyk January 13, 2019 at 6:26 pm #

    what i dont understand is if the hospital “thought” she was intoxicated , why wanst blood work done to confirm???

  8. kflecknell@gmail.com'
    Kenneth Flecknell January 13, 2019 at 8:16 am #

    I think that this woman has been very badly maligned and as such should be awarded at least 10.5 million dollars by the Trudeau government that always takes the side of those who are so maliciously treated by government services. That only seems fair being as they are giving others who were never hurt by Canadian laws that amount.

  9. spcote79@gmail.com'
    sADIE COTE January 12, 2019 at 5:05 pm #


  10. marianduncan56@gmail.com'
    Marian January 12, 2019 at 9:39 am #

    All Mothers lets rise up as one Nation. Let’s sing “Bring our children home !” Our children are our heartbeats. Our souls are robbed of unconditional Love. For every woman that stands. Is the number of children we will bring home. <3