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Second case of indigenous Canadians swapped at birth causes outrage

The Independent logo The Independent 28/08/2016 Harriet Agerholm

For the second time in less than a year in the same indigenous Canadian community, two men have found out they were swapped at birth.

It has been suggested the discovery raises questions about the standard of healthcare for indigenous people in Canada.

David Tait and Leon Swanson were swapped at government hospital Norway House in west Canada 41 years ago, DNA testing has confirmed.

The two men were understood to be friends as children. They claim they were bullied in their youth because of their resemblance to each other’s families.

Mr Tait made an impassioned plea for further investigation.

"It’s pretty tough, it hits you like a ton of bricks,” he told local press in Winnipeg.

“[I’m] angry, confused, upset. I’d like to get some answers so I know what’s going on."

In 2015, DNA testing proved childhood friends Norman Barkman and Luke Monias, both 41 and born three days apart, were also switched at birth.

Eric Robinson, former aboriginal affairs minister who has been assisting the families, repeated a call for a federal investigation into the cases. He added he suspects there are more undiscovered cases.

"What happened here is lives were stolen," Mr Robinson said, "You can't describe it as anything less than criminal.”

"We can live with one mistake, but two mistakes of a similar nature is not acceptable” he added, according to CBC.

Health Minister Jane Philpott issued a statement saying an inquiry will take place.

"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," she said.

The 1.4 million indigenous people in Canada often face considerable social and economic hardship. The group is often victim to prejudice and healthcare provided to them is often considered subpar.

Despite the trauma of the discovery, Mr Tait remained optimistic about the future of his family relationships.

"They’ll always be my mum and dad, regardless. They raised me from Day One and that’s the way it’s going to stay," Mr Tait, said, indicating towards the couple who raised him.

"Plus, I get another brother, another mum and dad," he told local press.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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