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.
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.