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Switched at birth at a Manitoba hospital over 60 years ago, 2 men seek answers, compensation from province

Switched at birth at a Manitoba hospital over 60 years ago, 2 men seek answers, compensation from province

Baku, March 24, AZERTAC

After learning they were switched at birth at a Manitoba hospital over 60 years ago, two men are looking for answers and compensation from the province, CBC reported.

Last year, Edward Ambrose got a call from his sister, who broke some surprising news to him. Through a 23 and Me DNA test, she had learned that Ambrose was not her biological brother.

Instead, she discovered a brother of hers living in British Columbia. Richard Beauvais was born on the same day and at the same Arborg, Man., hospital as Ambrose in 1955.

"I wasn't ready for that. It was a shock to me," Ambrose told CBC. "It [hurt], like there was something ripped out of me."

Ambrose was raised on a farm in Rembrandt, Man., with a Ukrainian family and had a close relationship with the man he now calls his "bonded" father. Looking at pictures of the family he grew up with, Ambrose said he could not see himself not being a part of them.

"Growing up all these years with them — you're a family," he said.

Beauvais, however, lived a much different life. Raised Métis, Beauvais is a residential day school survivor who was taken away from his family in the Sixties Scoop.

He was shocked to learn that he was not of Cree and French descent, as he had believed his whole life, but is actually of Ukrainian, Jewish and Polish ancestry.

"At the beginning, we didn't believe it," Beauvais told CBC.

"I came from a time where it was shameful to be an Indian," he said. "I felt I lost something, because when you fight so hard to be somebody, and all of a sudden you're not that person — it sets you back."

The experience has been like a roller-coaster, he said.

"It was very emotional for me to phone my sisters and tell them I'm not their brother. That was hard."

The two men are working with a lawyer. They want an apology and compensation for what they went through.

Their lawyer, Bill Gange, told CBC he made that request to the province in April 2022. He received a response from its lawyer in December, saying the province had no legal liability in the situation and that it would not offer the men any compensation.

This isn't the first case of children being switched at birth in Manitoba. Two other sets of men from northern First Nations found out they were switched at the federally-run Norway House Indian Hospital in 1975.

Health Canada investigated both of those cases, and two of the men received financial settlements as well as support services from Ottawa.

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