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After outcry over baby’s apprehension, Manitoba Indigenous family gets their newborn back

An Indigenous family plans to file a lawsuit after they say their newborn baby was seized by Child and Family Services without warning.

A taxi was on its way to bring the mother and child home on Monday when a childcare worker unexpectedly showed up at a Winnipeg hospital, the mother’s older sister said in an interview.

“It was an illegal, wrongful arrest that occurred when the child had multiple homes to go to within the family,” he said.

The family posted a video of their exchange with the child’s social welfare worker online, which went viral on social media and caught the attention of politicians who spoke about the family’s plight in the Manitoba legislature on Thursday.

That afternoon, Child and Family Services met with the family and apologized for the detention, blaming it on a miscommunication, the sister said.

The newborn was returned to his mother on Thursday night.

“She’s happy to have a baby home, but she’s still disappointed with how it all turned out. It just could have been avoided with proper communication,” her sister said.

No family member can be identified under Manitoba law.

WATCH |: The family tries to reason with the child care worker to prevent fear.

Manitoba family records infant arrest by CFS

The family of an Indigenous baby protests when a CFS worker arrives to pick up the baby at a Winnipeg hospital. Since then, the child has been returned to the family.

The sister says that the explanation given for carrying the newborn does not make sense. It said the mother, who is 17 and in the CFS unit, had made no effort to enter parenting plans and that the family had no plan to care for the child, which the family disputed.

He said the employee apologized Thursday for the miscommunication and said it should not have happened.

The state government did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but a spokeswoman previously said the state could not comment on specific comments due to privacy concerns.

NDP families critic Nahanni Fontaine said the family involved in the arrest followed all the appropriate steps, but the child welfare system still took their child. On Thursday, he raised the issue of family.

Fontaine later told reporters that the older sister had arranged for the mother and baby to live with her. The sister also moved to a bigger place to ensure they had enough space.

A woman wearing a white sweater speaks to the media behind two cameras.
NDP families critic Nahanni Fontaine said the family that suffered the detention of the babies did everything they had to do to get the baby home with the mother. (Darrin Morash/CBC)

“Here’s the native family, all gathered to work out a kinship plan. Here’s a young Native mother who did everything she was supposed to do, and there were no concerns counseled or outlined to the family during this process,” Fontaine said. .

And yet, CFS still appeared “without explanation,” he added.

“The family are rightly concerned and saddened that this has happened.”

Fontaine told reporters that before reunification, the only possible solution was to return the child to the mother.

Liberal Leader Dugald Lamont told Question Time that the outcry showed the disintegration of Indigenous families that occurred in residential schools was not a thing of the past.

“It’s not just intergenerational trauma,” she said. “It’s a trauma that’s being created right now, affecting thousands of families.”

The number of Bermans is decreasing

Families Minister Rochelle Squires said she could not talk about the details of the family’s case, but said Thursday that she had instructed the Children and Family Services Authority to monitor the matter and contact the family.

He noted that the number of children taken care of annually has decreased in recent years.

In 2018-19, 289 infants were detained. That dropped to 84 arrests in 2021-22, the latest fiscal year for which figures are available, according to state statistics released Thursday.

The government says the decision to end birth alarms in 2020 has helped reduce the number of children in care. Birth alerts were the controversial practice of notifying hospitals and child welfare agencies that a parent deemed high-risk was about to have a baby.

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