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

An advanced polling session at the Quesnel Seniors’ Centre on Monday, June 14 was busy. The regular voting day is set for June 19, at locations across the region. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Public will be asked to approve $20 million for Quesnel pool upgrades

A referendum to approve a renovation of the Quesnel Arts and Recreation Centre is set for June 19

A Baker Creek tour from 2019 with a group of students - tours will be much smaller in 2020 due to COVID-19 prevention measures. (Submitted Photo)
Baker Creek Nature Explorers plans for full summer in Quesnel

The day program will run twice a week for two age groups

Environment Canada has issued a thunderstorm watch for the Cariboo north including Quesnel. (Black Press file image)
Environment Canada issues thunderstorm watch for Quesnel

A chance of thundershowers is forcasted to last until Tuesday

The Gold Pan Grannies attended the Quesnel Farmers’ Market where they sold perennials and vegetable plants and fruit trees by donation Saturday, May 29. They were able to raise $1,000 for the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Gold Pan Grannies raise $1,000 for Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign

Annual plant sale at Quesnel Farmers’ Market a success

Amy Vardy is one of four dancers to compete in their final year of the Quesnel Festival of the Performing Arts. (Submitted Photo)
Quesnel Festival of the Arts graduating dancer profile: Amy Vardy

The Quesnel Festival of the Performing arts is honouring their graduating dancers

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Ivy was thrown out of a moving vehicle in Kelowna. Her tail was severely injured and will be amputated. (BC SPCA)
Kitten thrown from moving vehicle, needs help: Kelowna SPCA

The seven-month-old kitten had severe tail and femur injuries

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Inquest set into 2016 death of B.C. teen after a day spent in police custody

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure in hospital after spending time in jail cell

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop ‘appalling’ live horse export, slaughter

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Most Read