First Nations women forced to be sterilized before they could see newborns

Exterior of the Royal University Hospital in Saskatchewan. Photo

Vincent Schilling

Indigenous women — now unable to have children — were reassured by medical professionals that procedures were reversible

Sixty Indigenous women are filing a class-action lawsuit alleging forced sterilizations over the past nearly three decades, According to a CBC radio report.

A large group of Indigenous women are seeking a class-action lawsuit for alleged forced sterilizations that took place over the past twenty-five years in Saskatchewan. The women are each claiming 7 million dollars in damages.

According to the report, the sterilizations occurred as early as 2017, and the women are alleging they were told the procedure was reversible according to Alisa Lombard, who works with Maurice Law, the first indigenous owned law firm in Canada.

"In the throes of labor ... they would be approached, harassed, coerced into signing these consent forms," Lombard said in the written article. Lombard also told the CBC that women could not leave until they agreed to have their tubes tied, cut or cauterized. Lombard added that “they could not see their baby until they agreed.”

In the CBC radio program titled “The Current” with Anna Maria Tremonti, Tremonti states that the show requested an interview with Federal Minister of Indigenous Services, Jane Philpott. Tremonti said on the program, that Philpott could not come to the show, but said Philpott was on the record stating forced sterilizations were a “very serious violation of human rights.”

Read the show transcript here. Listen to the program online here.

According to the article written by Padraig Moran, there was an independent review on the forced sterilizations and that Jackie Mann, the vice-president of integrated health services for the Saskatoon Health Region apologized. Mann said in the article, which was from a press conference on July 27, 2017: “I want to apologize to the women who came forward in the review … I am truly sorry for the coercion for tubal ligation that you experienced while in our care."

A sound clip from the radio program at the top of the program is from an Indigenous woman who is currently involved in the lawsuit. The woman -- who says she trusted the medical professionals who had assured her the procedure was reversible -- shares her situation in the audio clip:

“When I learnt that there was zero chance of me having children … I felt violated as a woman, because a woman’s ability to have children is a huge part of their identity.”

Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter -@VinceSchilling


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Comments (6)
No. 1-2

Really? Even in this century, a form of ethnic cleansing? Or what - a study should really be done to see if this was a justification by those that think they have more rights to reproduce here on our continent than the indigenous of the continent. Because fraudulent education & conditioning has programmed some to believe this stupidity. Or was it about greed & money by doctors that intimidated staff to forced these women to sign on the dotted line. And because they are indigenous, the caring of the hypocritical European public ignores evil like this committed against certain humanity. The study of this type of behavior should not be questioned by anyone because it is a heinous act by actions not understood and therefore a study should be done to know where these people came from originally, why they were motivated and how they were motivated to commit such actions. This type of atrocity by Europeans has to be documented, recorded, to forever follow their history to the end of man on this planet! A study is necessary to know the motivations, the secret way in which they work, the ultimate goals that they are forever trying to accomplish, and especially they kind of men willing to take these actions and where they originate. They ultimately come from across the Atlantic but there has to be a certain factors that give them commonality. It is necessary to do studies even back into our history - to find is the action motivated by greed, evil, or control. The activities of these people are just too heinous not to know, WHY???

David Hollenshead
David Hollenshead

It sounds like there are a few Canadian Doctors who really need to lose their license. My Prussian Jewish Grandfather was an OB/GYN, who delivered about 15,000 babies, if I include his military service in the US Army. He would tell a patient that this should be her last pregnancy if there was a valid medical reason, but he also viewed Forced Sterilizations as something "the Nazis did". And sometimes a patient didn't take his advice and died or miscarried, which bothered him, but it was "her body and her choice"...