Mother of newborn apprehended in Winnipeg hopeful reunion will happen soon

WINNIPEG — A mother seen crying in social media videos as her newborn baby was taken from her in hospital says she is hopeful the child will be reunited with family soon.

The mother says she had made private arrangements before the baby’s birth to transfer guardianship to her aunt.

“We are disappointed these were not followed but we are pursuing our goal to have my newborn baby placed in the care of my auntie as soon as possible,” she said Tuesday in a statement from the First Nations Family Advocate Office.

The woman cannot be named under Manitoba law.

The family attended family court on Monday and has had a visit with the baby. The statement said they are fully co-operating with the agency and expect to know by Wednesday when the infant is to be reunited with family.

Statistics from the Manitoba government show newborn apprehensions occur, on average, about once a day. About 90 per cent of kids in care are Indigenous.

“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,” the mother said.

“I am thankful if my baby and I have brought some awareness to this situation that is happening here in Manitoba.”

The videos were broadcast live on Facebook last week by the woman’s uncle. They show her sitting in a Winnipeg hospital bed and cradling the two-day-old baby as social workers and police explain the child is being taken into care.

The woman cries softly before police eventually place the newborn in a car seat and take her away.

The videos led to an outcry online. In a news conference with family the day after the apprehension, First Nations leaders said it showed a biased child-welfare system.

The General Child and Family Services Authority, which oversees the social workers involved, has not revealed any details and says it stands by its decision.

The woman’s family said the apprehension was based on a false accusation that the mother was drunk when she arrived at the hospital to give birth.

Cora Morgan, a family advocate for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, said the woman had previously sought help for addictions and with parenting from Child and Family Services, but she was not intoxicated when she arrived at the hospital.

“Like all mothers, I love my baby very much and want the best for her, which includes having a close bond with me,” the mother said in Tuesday’s statement.

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