(By Peter Zimonjic · CBC News · July 14, 2022 – Used with Permission) – The Senate human rights committee is calling on the federal government to outlaw forced or coerced sterilization and to issue a formal apology to women who have been subjected to the practice.
Those recommendations are among 13 in the second part of a new Senate report — The Scars that We Carry: Forced and Coerced Sterilization of Persons in Canada — released Thursday.
“Forced and coerced sterilization has a long history in Canada, including as a strategy to subjugate and eliminate First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples,” the report says.
The Senate human rights committee began studying the issue back in 2019 and found that — far from being a problem of the distant past — forced and coerced sterilization was still taking place in Canada and Indigenous women were not the only people affected.
“The committee heard that other vulnerable groups have also been disproportionately subjected to these procedures, including Black and racialized women, persons with disabilities, intersex children and institutionalized persons,” the report says.
- MP asks RCMP for criminal probe of coerced sterilization of Indigenous women
- Indigenous women come forward with accounts of forced sterilization, says lawyer
- 2 Indigenous women allege they were sterilized against their will in Manitoba hospitals — one of them in 2018
While forced or coerced sterilization could fall under the category of assault in the Criminal Code, the committee said it wants it codified as a crime in law through the passage of Bill S-250, which would make it an offence punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
“What we’ve seen so far hasn’t worked, because I believe there’s sterilization happening today, as we speak,” Sen. Yvonne Boyer, the committee member who introduced S-250, said Wednesday.
“We need to have some extra teeth and I think that passing this bill might make them stop and think a little bit more before they actually do something like that again.”
The report says that women and girls, some as young as 14, have been “coerced through confinement, manipulation or threats” into sterilization, while “others were simply not consulted before the procedure.”
The report also recommends:
- Requiring that medical associations, professional governing and licensing bodies denounce forced and coerced sterilization.
- Having the federal government, led by survivors, develop a compensation framework for survivors.
- Ensuring data on the practice is collected nationally and mechanisms are in place to investigate and respond to complaints.
- Requiring that all medical and nursing school students study Indigenous health issues.
- Launching a federal education campaign about patients’ rights tailored to the groups most affected by sterilization.
- Increasing investments in community-based midwifery in northern and remote communities.
- Increasing the number of Indigenous health care providers while providing cultural competency training for health care professionals of all backgrounds.
The report also says a parliamentary committee should continue to study the issue and monitor efforts by the federal government to address the recommendations in the report.
“Forced and coerced sterilization is unfortunately an inhumane practice rooted in racism and conscious or unconscious biases. It demonstrates, once again, the perception of a superior colonial view according to a preconceived way of life, which continues to devalue the life of Indigenous peoples,” said Sen. Michèle Audette, a former member of the committee.
The office of Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller issued a statement after the report was published that did not mention the legislation proposed by Sen. Boyer. It pledged to review the report’s recommendations and work to address discrimination in the health system.
“This is a serious matter that requires the collaboration of all orders of government, and health and social system professionals, to ensure health services are safe for all Indigenous women,” the statement says.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Peter Zimonjic has worked as a reporter and columnist in London, England, for the Daily Mail, Sunday Times and Daily Telegraph and in Canada for Sun Media and the Ottawa Citizen. He is the Author of Into The Darkness: An Account of 7/7, published by Random House.
Northern Territory police minister Kate Worden, who is also the minister for domestic violence, said it had been a ‘heartbreaking week’ after two DV incidents. Photograph: Aaron Bunch/AAP
Pope Francis attends a community event near Nakasuk Elementary School in Iqaluit on Friday afternoon. In his speech, the Pope asked forgiveness and referred to the ‘indignation and shame’ he felt about Canada’s residential schools. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)
(By Sarah Krymalowski · CBC News · Iqaluit, NU - August 04, 2022 - Used with Permission) - It's up to a Nunavut judge...
According to the report, among all workers who earned at least $5,000 in 2019, more Indigenous workers (39.2 per cent) than non-Indigenous workers (33.9 per cent) received CERB payments.
A panel of First Nations chiefs and residential school survivors spoke to media Thursday. Elder Gordon Burnstick from Alexander First Nation, Rod Alexis from Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, Chief Tony Alexis from Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, Treaty 6 First Nations Grand Chief George Arcand Jr., Ermineskin Cree Nation Chief Randy Ermineskin, Louis Bull Tribe Chief Desmond Bull and Alexander First Nation elder Victoria Arcand spoke at the event. (Jamie McCannel/CBC)
Dignitaries from the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan, the federal government and the provincial government were on hand to sign an agreement to transfer 690 hectares of land from the western part of Batoche back to Métis people of Saskatchewan. (Trever Bothorel/CBC News)