Coerced tubal ligations: Did this happen to Indigenous women in Alberta too?

I have today sent this letter to Premier Notley as well as Ministers Hoffman, Ganley and Feehan:

August 21, 2017

To:  Rachel Notley, Premier; Sarah Hoffman, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health; Kathleen Ganley, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General and Richard John Feehan, Minister of Indigenous Relations

Dear Premier Notley and Ministers Hoffman, Ganley and Feehan,

Re:  Need to ensure that Indigenous women in Alberta have not also been coerced into having tubal ligations

As I am sure you are aware, a recent report from Saskatchewan documents that some Indigenous women in that province were subjected to tubal ligations to which they did not fully consent.  These coerced procedures did not take place in distant history but instead very recently:  the report covers the period 2005 – 2010.

My purpose in writing about this appalling state of affairs in Saskatchewan is to ask your government to look into whether the same has happened in Alberta.  While I have no evidence that it has, we have, collectively, I think no reason to be sanguine it has not.  Indeed, why would anyone think that such racist human rights breaches occurred only under the auspices of Saskatoon Health?  It would be very surprising if that were the case.

The need for reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous people is often asserted and I think the goal is broadly supported by Canadians.  I suggest to you that an essential component of reconciliation is the willingness of Canadian institutions – political and other – to go beyond the minimum required by law, in particular in this context, to take action quickly to dig into these uncomfortable allegations about coerced tubal ligations before individuals come forward claiming their rights and human dignity have been violated.  Only by doing so will the government demonstrate authentic commitment to reconciliation.

I have written to your government on behalf of the Green Party of Alberta about analogous matters:  earlier it was the need to find out whether police in Alberta abuse their power vis à vis Aboriginal women and girls, as has been well-documented in other parts of Canada.  If we in Alberta are serious about helping to end our country’s viciously discriminatory treatment of Indigenous people, then our governments have to be prepared to be proactive in looking into these and other ugly possibilities.  Altogether too often those “possibilities” have proven factual.

It is clearly wrong for the Alberta government to sit back and wait for Aboriginal women to have to take the initiative on these very serious issues.  The onus is on your government, on behalf of all Albertans, to take the first step.


Janet Keeping

Leader, Green Party of Alberta

cc:  Nathan Cooper, Interim Leader, United Conservative Party, Official Opposition; David Khan, Leader, Alberta Liberal Party;  and Greg Clark, Leader, Alberta Party.

Comments 4

  • Proof?

    Please provide evidence this happened in Alberta before the NDP go looking for what is not there.

    Why do you want to waste our money on searching for something you don’t even know if it exists?

    This is why the Green Party is a JOKE. WE WANT FACTS NOT FEELINGS!!

    • I think you missed my point, Dan. I said that I think we all — and our governemnts included — have to make a special effort if we are going to establish the trust necessary for reconciliation with Indigenous people. In this case that special effort would be to take a proactive approach: when something really heinous happens to Indigenous people in another part of Canada, especially when it happens in a neighbouring province with history and conditions similar to ours, we should be looking into whether the same has taken place here.
      I am not sure why you are going on about wanting facts rather than feelings. I am arguing that the government should indeed be looking into the facts — the facts around whether Indigenous women in Alberta have been coerced into having sterilizations they didn’t want.

  • Thank you for writing this letter Janet. I think all provinces should be looking into whether or not this has happened.

  • I agree, Josh. What happened in Saskatchewan was outrageous. We’d all like to think it’s an isloated problem but — really — what are the odds on that? And to show real caring, necessary for reconciliation, the Alberta government has to go out of its way to determine one way or the other: either it did or did not happen in Alberta too.

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