Manitoba men switched at birth to meet federal health minister

More than four decades after being switched at birth at Norway House Indian Hospital, four men will meet Health Minister Jane Philpott in Winnipeg this month.

Four men to meet with Minister Jane Philpott in Winnipeg later this month

Norway House resident Leon Swanson weeps at a press conference in Winnipeg, Friday, August 26, 2016. Swanson and David Tait Jr. were switched at birth in 1975 when their mothers gave birth at Norway House Indian Hospital. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

The four Manitoba men who were switched at birth at the Norway House Indian Hospital 41 years ago will meet face-to-face with Canada's health minister.

Norman Barkman, Luke Monias, Leon Swanson and David Tait Jr. will sit down with Jane Philpott in Winnipeg later this month, said Eric Robinson, Manitoba's former Aboriginal affairs minister, who is representing the four men.

Swanson and Tait were born three days apart — Swanson on Jan. 31, 1975, and Tait on Feb. 3, 1975 — at Norway House Indian Hospital in 1975, which was then run by the federal government.

Luke Monias and Norman Barkman from Garden Hill First Nation came forward after DNA results confirmed they were not the biological children of their parents. They were born in 1975, five months after Swanson and Tate, at the same Norway House hospital.

Robinson met with a Health Canada official Wednesday to set parameters for the meeting. 

Norman Barkman (left) and Luke Monias (middle) sit beside Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister Eric Robinson at a press conference last year. (CBC)

"The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss the immediate needs and the long-term needs of the four gentlemen that were switched at birth," Robinson said. "We need to talk about counselling needs and the health and mental well-being of these people."

Robinson said the four men will ask the federal government through Philpott to launch an investigation and to pay for counselling and other support. Asked if he expected the request to be approved, he said it's "uncharted" territory.

"This is something not known to the minister or other Canadians," he said. "This is an opportunity for the federal minister to hear firsthand about what happened."


  • An earlier version of this article stated Eric Robinson met with Health Minister Jane Philpott, when in fact he met with a Health Canada official.
    Oct 06, 2016 4:25 PM CT