NewsAlert: Northern Manitoba men switched at birth
WINNIPEG – Two Manitoba men are asking for a federal government investigation into how they could have been switched at birth 40 years ago at a federally run hospital.
Provincial Aboriginal Affairs Minister Eric Robinson says DNA tests show the men were given to the wrong families after their mothers gave birth in Norway House on June 19, 1975.
Luke Monias and Norman Barkman are from the Garden Hill First Nation and grew up on a reserve that is only accessible by air and winter ice road.
Robinson says there were always doubts in the community about the men’s real identity and they came to him for help earlier this year.
“The rumours had bothered them so much that they needed confirmation one way or the other for their own peace of mind,” Robinson told a news conference in Winnipeg on Friday.
The results were “shocking and unbelievable,” said Robinson.
The “irresponsible mixup” at the hospital has caused long-term damage to both men and their relatives, he said.
“The lives of Luke, Norman and their families have been irreversibly torn apart by this error, an error that cannot simply be overturned at this late time.”
The men need to know what happened so they can begin to heal and regain trust, the minister said.
“Mr Barkman and Mr. Monias are calling on the federal government to initiate an immediate investigation into the events surrounding this grievous error and I support them in that endeavour.”
“I just want to know what happened 40 years ago,” Barkman said between long pauses, his voice breaking. “It’s hard. I just want to know what happened.”
Robinson said “the mental, physical and spiritual well-being of both men has been deeply affected by the loss of their proper identity.”
“The effects on their immediate and extended families is just as serious. It’s also had a huge effect on the community itself.”
“I want the federal government to do an investigation why and how this happened to us,” said Monias. “I would like some answers for me and my family.”
Answers won’t come soon enough for at least two people: the biological father of Monias is deceased as is Barkman’s biological mother.
By The Canadian Press