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  • Last year, some 354 infants were taken from their Manitoba parents; 87 percent of these were First Nations.

    Last year, some 354 infants were taken from their Manitoba parents; 87 percent of these were First Nations. | Photo: Reuters

Published 15 January 2019

The baby was apprehended by Canadian child services minutes after birth.

The baby of an Indigenous couple in Manitoba, Canada is being returned its family later this week, the First Nations Family Advocate said in an interview Monday.

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The newborn was swept from its mother’s arms minutes after birth by Canadian officials and sent to a foster home for the last five days.

“If a health-care professional determines a child may be in need of protection, they have a duty to report,” said a spokesman of Manitoba’s Child and Family Services (CFS).

According to provincial legislation, children are considered at risk when the family in question is considered abusive, neglectful, or in some way a danger to the child.

During a news conference, the mother in question said she was told by CFS authorities that the child was taken due to the fact that she seemed “intoxicated” at the time of her arrival to St.Boniface Hospital to give birth. The mother denied it, saying doctor’s had permitted her to breastfeed. Something, she said, which would’ve been prohibited, although the ministry denies her claims as the facility does not have a policy regarding intoxication.

However, the practice has been a point of contention of late considering the high rate of children specifically removed from the care of Indigenous families and communities.

Last year, some 354 infants were taken from their Manitoba parents. Eighty-seven percent of these were First Nations, while 259 of the children remained in foster care a year later. Since 2016, over 1,000 newborns have been apprehended, according to the Manitoba Liberal Party.

The mother, whose name remains anonymous, told local media, "I am sad this occurs so frequently. It has been traumatic to witness the lack of empathy and compassion shown during the apprehension of my child and even during my first court appearance.

"I am thankful if my baby and I have brought some awareness to this situation that is happening here in Manitoba," she said.

In a statement last month, Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott criticized the government and the high rate of Indigenous children moved to foster care. She denounced the “perverse system” as a means to alienate children from their communities, culture, and traditions by forcing them into foster care or adoption.

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