Birth alerts are ‘raced-based genocide’ says Mi’kmaw lawyer

An Indigenous couple in B.C. is living the nightmare all new parents fear – keeping their newborn out of the child welfare system.

“It’s quite devastating,” said Cora Morgan, the First Nations Family Advocate with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC).

“The most violent act you can commit against a mother is to steal their baby.”

APTN News has been reporting all week on the hospital or birth alert involving Baby H and the Ministry of Children and Family Development in Kamloops.

The stories have sparked strong reaction – even from Morgan.

“These babies go into foster homes and shelters causing emotional damage,” she said Thursday.

“There can’t be any nurturing when children are ripped away.”

At-risk babies

Governments and child welfare agencies say alerts are used by health professionals and social workers to flag at-risk babies especially when parents are under age or have themselves been in care.

But the damage forced separation inflicts on parents, children and their wider communities is becoming better known.

Two major Canadian reports identify such alerts as ‘genocide’ and ‘violence’.

Both the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada called for major change.

“End the practice of targeting and apprehending infants from Indigenous mothers right after they give birth,” said the MMIWG inquiry in its 231 Calls for Justice released June 3.

“Indigenous peoples should not be subjected to any act of genocide or violence, including forcibly removing children of the group to another group,” added the TRC in its June 2015 release of 94 Calls to Action.

“Indigenous peoples have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.”

B.C. CFS moves in to seize 90-minute-old baby on report of neglect

Mi’kmaw lawyer Pam Palmater said evidence against the birth-alert system is piling up.

“What happened in B.C. is a prime example of – how can a baby be endangered in the first 90 minutes after a mother has given birth? Unless she was physically assaulting the baby – and that wasn’t the case here – there’s simply no justification for this.”

Palmater called bedside apprehensions “race-based genocide” against Indigenous women.

“We all know that moms who have had their children stolen from them – especially Indigenous moms – are more likely to suffer from suicide, heart attack, stroke, depression, anxiety, addictions, homelessness,” she said in an interview.

The TRC suggested parents-to-be receive prenatal services and preventive care to learn how to safely care for their children.

First Nations Family Advocate Cora Morgan (left) testified against birth alerts at the MMIWG inquiry. (APTN News)

Instead, Morgan said many experience “impending doom” as they give birth.

Manitoba has the highest per capita rate of children in care and apprehends about one newborn a day.

And the Saskatchewan government – only days after the MMIWG inquiry released its final report – confirmed it would continue to track or seize at-risk babies.

Palmater said that’s wrong.

“The report said these apprehensions effectively erases the possibility that Indigenous women can create the relationships and care necessary for children, especially if they have been prevented from doing so in the past through forced separation,” she said.

“We’re not talking about historic events, we’re talking about the crisis that’s going on now.”

With files from Dennis Ward and Justin Brake



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10 thoughts on “Birth alerts are ‘raced-based genocide’ says Mi’kmaw lawyer

  1. Pretty sick all right and they have the absolute protection of the law on their side.

  2. I’m from Truro Nova Scotia.
    When my daughter was born I had a nurse call CPS on me because supposedly I was yelling at my 12 hour old infant.
    Thank God nothing came of that.
    But it happens all the time and it needs to stop

  3. Stop using the word genocide. You risk distracting the public from the issue over an n inability to correctly grasp English language. Stealing babies from their mother is not genocide, it’s flat out evil and racist but it’s NOT genocide.

  4. What was the government’s reason for believing that this child was at risk? There was no mention as to why they deemed the child at risk. This is the problem with news media in the present day. It is not your job to create uproar, it is your job to present facts, and we will come with uproar where we see fit. Obviously removing a child from their mother and family is not how things should be done, and is damaging to the community as a whole, but it is equally damaging if the child is growing up in a home with social issues (like a disabled parent, or a home where abusive conditions, or problems with addiction) which is why some children are removed and placed into the system. So again, I ask what was the rationale? Should we be angry at the government agency, sad for the family and child, or chapped by lousy reporting with facts seemingly missing to forward an agenda?

  5. Let us hope and pray you never learn what genocide really is – although I read that you used to practice it on each other.

  6. my only issue with this article is the use of quotations around “genocide” and “violence”. this IS Genocide. This IS Violence.

  7. This is blatant “Power over” mentality! I have always heard from Children’s Aid that it is their mandate to keep children with their parents. I have seen and heard and witnessed more negative outcomes than I have good.
    How is that giving a parent a chance and wanting to keep the child with the parents when they go in, day one and take that child?

    This is the Government, stealing culture, children and just plain quality of life. Could this possibly be to keep their own corporations and organizations afloat? CFS should be replaced by education and helping measures instead of “tracking”.

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