Two 41-year-old best friends have broken down in tears after being told they were switched at birth, at a hospital in Norway House Cree Nation, Manitoba, Canada.
According to CBC News, they spent their lives with each other’s biological family.
Leon Swanson and David Tait Jr. were born three days apart at the Norway House Indian Hospital which was then run by the federal government.
Swanson was born on January 31, 1975, and Tait on Februray 3, 1975. They were then given to the wrong mothers.
Tait’s biological mother is Charlotte Mason, but he was raised by Francis Tait. Swanson’s biological mother is Francis Tait, but he ended up being raised by Charlotte Mason
Mason said she was transported to hospital in Winnipeg after giving birth due to complications during delivery. Three days later, Francis Tait gave birth to a baby who they believe was wrongly sent home with Charlotte Mason’s mother.
According to CBC News:
This is the second case of infants at the Norway House Indian Hospital being switched at birth in 1975.
Last November, Luke Monias and Norman Barkman from Garden Hill First Nation came forward after DNA results confirmed they were not the biological children of their parents. They were born in 1975, five months after Swanson and Tate, at the same Norway House hospital.
This case influenced Swanson and Tait’s decision to get DNA tests done because they had suspected that they too were switched at birth. They both had similarities they shared with each other’s families.
“What happened here is lives were stolen. You can’t describe it as anything less than that,” said Eric Robinson, a former NDP member of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly for Keewatinook at a news conference.
“I can’t describe this matter as anything less than criminal. We can live with one mistake, but two mistakes of a similar nature is not acceptable, so we can’t simply slough it off as being a mistake, indeed it was a criminal activity in my view,” he added.
Tait said everyone affected wants answers as to how such a switch could happen.
“We don’t have words,” he said. “Forty years gone … just distraught, confused, and angry.”
According to a statement by Canada’s Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott, a third-party investigation will be undertaken to try to get to the bottom of what happened.
“Given these latest developments, the department will be moving quickly to engage the services of an independent third party to do a dedicated and thorough investigation of all available hospital records from the period to determine what happened and whether there is any other cause for concern beyond the two cases identified.
The results of this review will be made public. 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. The government of Canada remains deeply committed to renewing a nation-to-nation relationship with all Indigenous peoples. I offer my sympathy to the families in this difficult time,” the statement read.
“They have every right to know why this has happened to them,” Robinson, speaking on the third-party investigation, said.
“It’s going to be challenging, there’s going to be ups and downs, and there’s going to be a lot of hurt and pain as the story unfolds more,” he added.
Robinson said Norway House has always been the “birthing centre” of northern Manitoba because it was the only northern community that had a hospital in the 1970s.