Family, advocate speak after video shows CFS seizing newborn in Winnipeg


The family of a newborn girl in a Facebook live that shows her being taken away by Manitoba Child and Family Services and police spoke Friday about their pain. 


“When I was trying to sleep, I would see her face,” the new mom’s aunt said at a morning news conference, a day after the baby was apprehended, a term used by CFS.

“I was so full of worries. Is she eating? Is she crying?”

The baby was picked up around 4 p.m. CT Thursday, the family said. The widely viewed Facebook video prompted a First Nations family advocate to call the news conference.

The family says it believes it will get the baby back.

“It’s very disappointing how things were handled. I was blindsided,” the baby’s mother said at the news conference. “It’s just a huge letdown, and it’s just astonishing how far this had to go.”

Watch a portion of the video of the apprehension shared live on Facebook:

This is a clip of a Facebook video shot Thursday that went viral. It shows police and CFS workers apprehending a newborn, CBC has blurred the video due to a law preventing the identification of the children in care. 1:12

In the Facebook video, which the post says was filmed in a room at Winnipeg’s St. Boniface Hospital, the baby girl is cradled by her mother, seated on a hospital bed and surrounded by sobbing family members.

“I’ll make it better for you,” the crying mother says to her baby at the beginning of the video. “You deserved much better.”

Police insist the baby has to be taken away. The family asks if they can have more time to say goodbye, if they can wait until other workers arrive, whether a family member can take the newborn and when the mother will be able to visit her again.

2 days old at apprehension

Melanie Ferris, communications officer for the First Nations Family Advocate Office at the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, said the baby girl was two days old when she was seized Thursday.

Her mother, 38, is living in Winnipeg and a band member of Garden Hill First Nation, Ferris said. The man filming the video is her uncle. Another woman in the room is her aunt.

Const. Tammy Skrabek of Winnipeg police said officers are sometimes called to assist CFS workers with apprehensions of newborns and young children. She said the family knew the baby would be taken ahead of time.

The baby was taken in the care of CFS to another area of the hospital, she said. 

As of 8 a.m. Friday, the Facebook video of the baby being seized had been seen roughly 325,000 times.

Cora Morgan, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs First Nations family advocate, called the 10 a.m. news conference.

The family wanted to share the story in an effort to stop seizure of children from other Indigenous families, said a news release from the office of the family advocate.

A spokesperson for the Manitoba advocate for children and youth said the office is aware of the incident and reviewing the video.