The Senate of Canada building and Senate Chamber are pictured in Ottawa on Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The Senate of Canada building and Senate Chamber are pictured in Ottawa on Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Forced and coerced sterilization of Indigenous women ongoing, Senate report reveals

A Senate committee on human rights says it is aware of a case as recently as 2019

She was screaming that she “didn’t want this,” but it happened anyway.

A Cree woman had just given birth to her sixth child in Saskatoon, when she was presented with a consent form for her sterilization.

“She tried to wheel herself away from the operating room, but the doctor wheeled her right back in the direction of the same operating room,” says a new government report, which details the woman’s sterilization in 2001.

“When she was in the operating room, she kept asking the doctor if she was done yet. Finally, he said, ‘Yes. Cut, tied and burnt. There, nothing is getting through that.’”

The woman, referred to as S.A.T., is one of 16 women who shared their experiences about their sterilizations in the report by a Senate committee on human rights.

The report, released Thursday, says coerced sterilization of Indigenous women is not a matter of the past and still happens in Canada today.

The committee is urging the federal government to further investigate the “heinous” practice by compiling data and come up with solutions to bring it to an end.

It says the precise number of Indigenous women subjected to forced or coerced sterilization in Canada is unclear.

It also argues that the practice hurts other marginalized and vulnerable groups in the country, including Black women and other people of colour.

Most of the women interviewed for the report were coercively sterilized between 2005 and 2010. The committee says it is aware of a case of forced sterilization as recent as in 2019.

“Some of the Indigenous women who were forced or coerced into sterilization live on reserves in remote areas. Hospitals are often a long distance away and require significant travel – sometimes by air,” the report says.

“Away from their family and communities to give birth, many Indigenous women experience language and cultural barriers. Many women are not given adequate information or support to understand and to be informed of their rights, including their sexual and reproductive rights.”

Until 1972, Alberta had a law requiring the forced or coerced sterilization of people considered “mentally defective.” In British Columbia, the same law existed until 1973.

“Persons deemed ‘mentally defective’ were not alone as targets – Eastern Europeans as well as Inuit, First Nations and Métis people were also disproportionately targeted and sterilized,” the report says.

Karen Stote, an assistant professor of women and gender studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, says in the report that despite the repealing of provincial eugenics laws, forced or coerced sterilization of Indigenous women continued in federally operated “Indian hospitals.”

About 1,150 Indigenous women were sterilized in these hospitals over a 10-year period up until the early 1970s, says the report.

“There was ‘a climate of racism and paternalism leading to the view that sterilization was for some women’s own good,”” Stote says in the report.

“These attitudes and beliefs continue to underpin health policy today and contribute to the practice of coerced and forced sterilization.”

The chair of the Senate committee on human rights, Salma Ataullahjan, said the federal government needs to study the issue further.

“The prevalence of this horrific practice is both underreported and underestimated,” she said in a news release.

“The committee is deeply concerned that, along with Indigenous women, other vulnerable and marginalized groups in Canada are affected by forced and coerced sterilization, including women with disabilities, racialized women, intersex children and institutionalized persons,” added deputy committee chair, Wanda Thomas Bernard.

“Parliamentarians must understand the full scope of this problem if we are to initiate effective and meaningful solutions.”

The office of the federal health minister did not respond to a request for comment on the report.

— By Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press

RELATED: UN committee tells Canada to do more on sterilizations of Indigenous women

FamiliesIndigenous

Just Posted

Ron MacDonald fields questions at a news conference in Halifax on Sept. 27, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Finding ‘comfortable’ indigenous monitor tough task in Tofino-area shooting death

Julian Jones case hampered by difficulty finding a civilian comfortable with privacy protocols

Port Alberni RCMP officer in command Insp. Eric Rochette presents longtime community policing volunteer Louie Aumair with a OIC appreciation certificate. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Port Alberni RCMP honour longtime volunteer

First responders receive support from broader community

The Dock+ is located on Harbour Road in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
PROGRESS 2021: Port Alberni’s food hub still growing a year later

The Dock hopes to open a retail store on Alberni’s busy waterfront

Shanna Ramm of Mosaic is the first person to graduate with a Bachelor of Disability Management from Pacific Coast University-Workplace Health Sciences. Her convocation took place virtually on Dec. 1, 2020. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
PROGRESS 2021: Pacific Coast University celebrates with milestones

Alberni institution earns $6M return-to-work grant from province

The front entrance of West Coast General Hospital features a roundabout and a garden. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
PROGRESS 2021: West Coast General Hospital sees changing of the guard

New doctors are establishing practices in Port Alberni

t
How to tell if a call from ‘CRA’ is legitimate or a scam

Expert says it’s important to verify you really are dealing with the CRA before you give out any info

The courthouse in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo man, already in jail, found guilty of sexual abuse of sons

Man previously sentenced for sexual interference involving girl in Nanaimo

British Columbia-Yukon Community News Association’s 2021 Ma Murray Awards were handed out during a virtual ceremony on Friday, June 10. (Screen grab)
Black Press Media winners take gold at B.C. and Yukon journalism awards

Publications received nods in dozens of categories

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets campers while visiting McDougall, Ont. on Thursday, July 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
71% of B.C. men say they’d prefer to go camping with Trudeau: survey

Most British Columbians with plans to go camping outdoors say they’d prefer to go with Trudeau or Shania Twain

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Chilliwack cocaine trafficker Clayton Eheler seen with a tiger somewhere in Asia in 2014. Eheler was sentenced to nine years jail in 2018, but was released on bail in October 2020 pending his appeal of conviction.(Facebook)
Director of civil forfeiture seeks $140,000 from Fraser Valley drug dealer’s father-in-law

Clayton Eheler’s father-in-law Ray Morrissey caught with money in Fort St. John by B.C.’s gang unit

A Comox Valley shellfish operator pleaded guilty and was fined $10,000 in provincial court in Courtenay earlier this year. Record file photo
B.C. clam harvester fined $10,000 for Fisheries Act violations

Charges against three others were stayed in Courtenay Provincial Court

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Frank Phillips receives a visit from his wife Rena at Nanaimo Seniors Village on their 61st wedding anniversary, March 31, 2020. Social visits have been allowed since COVID-19 vaccination has been offered in all care homes. (Nanaimo News Bulletin)
B.C. prepares mandatory vaccination for senior care homes

180 more cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Friday, one more death

Most Read