Switched at Birth in 1955, 2 Men Finally Get Their Apology

They had their identities 'stripped away,' says lawyer pursuing financial compensation
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2024 12:17 PM CDT

Imagine learning in your golden years that your family isn't your family. Given a DNA test in 2022, Richard Beauvais discovered he wasn't Indigenous like his parents but had a mix of Ukrainian, Ashkenazi Jewish, and Polish ancestry—and yet, he wasn't adopted. Beauvais soon learned he and another Canadian born on the same day in 1955, at the same hospital in Arborg, Manitoba, had been switched at birth, sent home with each other's parents. Eddy Ambrose, still living in Manitoba, 1,500 miles from Beauvais in British Columbia, had around the same time discovered he, son of Ukrainian-descended parents, was Métis, per the BBC. The realization upended both men's lives. On Thursday, a formal apology came from the province—more specifically, Manitoba's first indigenous premier since 1887.

"We are sometimes asked to understand empathy and compassion by considering what it is like to walk a mile in another person's shoes," said Premier Wab Kinew. "If that statement is true, our honored guests here today will perhaps understand compassion and empathy on a level very few of us will be able to approach." Ambrose grew up happy on a farm, listening to Ukrainian folk songs, until he was orphaned at age 12, then adopted. At age 3, Beauvais lost his father. He was put in foster care and attended a day school meant to assimilate Indigenous youth. Later, he proudly ran "the only all-indigenous fishing boat" in BC, the BBC reports. "Now he realizes that everybody's indigenous but him," attorney Bill Gange, representing both men, tells the outlet.

Admitting the province failed the men, Kinew told of a time when Ambrose, as a boy, asked his biological sister to play on his baseball team, not knowing they were related, and another time when Beauvais, as a teen, fished alongside his biological sister. The men have found new connections through the discovery, the CBC reports. But "they both have had who they thought they were stripped away because of this," says Gange, who's pursuing financial compensation from the province on behalf of the men and had requested an apology. The province initially claimed the municipally-run hospital was to blame but changed its stance under Kinew's leadership, per the BBC. "Given the very heartfelt speech that the premier gave, I'm confident that we'll be able to work something out," Gange tells the National Post. (More on the men's story.)

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