Urgent Action Needed to Ensure Indigenous Women Are Not Sterilized Without Their Consent

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(December 10, 2018) Across Canada and as recently as 2017, Indigenous women report being forcibly or coercively sterilized. Some women were incorrectly told the procedure is reversible. Others were separated from their babies until they consented to a tubal ligation.
Forced and coerced sterilizations of Indigenous women are a result of systemic violence and discrimination against Indigenous peoples in the provision of public services in Canada, a pattern well known and acknowledged by government. They are an assault on Indigenous women, their families, their communities, and their Nations that have already been subjected to forced assimilation through colonialism, including eugenic practices.
Sterilizing women without their free, full, and informed consent is a form of violence and torture. Measures to prevent births within ethnic or racial groups is explicitly prohibited by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
All women have the human right to make decisions around if, when, and how to create a family. All women have a right to live free from violence and discrimination. All women have a right to health.
We, the undersigned organizations call on the Government of Canada to take immediate action to address the issue of coerced and forced sterilizations of Indigenous women in Canada and:

Investigate allegations of forced or coerced sterilizations in Canada, with particular attention to cases involving Indigenous women and girls, ensuring justice and reparations to survivors and their families.
Appoint a special representative to meet with survivors and their families to hear their requests for justice and reparations.
Apply existing criminal legislation on aggravated assault and disciplinary measures for breach of professional standards for cases of forced or coerced sterilization.
Change government policies and practices to explicitly prohibit sterilization without free, full, and informed consent.
Implement Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action 23 and 24 on increasing the number of Indigenous healthcare professionals and providing cultural competency training to all healthcare professionals.
Develop a comprehensive National Action Plan to prevent and address gender-based violence involving the federal government, provinces, territories, municipalities, and First Nations.

Endorsed by:

Aboriginal Front Door Society
Aboriginal Legal Services
Aboriginal Women’s Action Network
Action Canada on Sexual Health and Rights
Alberta Society for the Promotion of Sexual Health
Alliance de la Fonction publique du Canada Montérégie – comité des femmes
Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists – National
Amnesty International Canada
Amnistie internationale Canada Francophone
Atira Women’s Resource Society
The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic
BC Native Women’s Association
British Columbia Civil Liberties Association – Association des libertés civiles de la Colombie-Britannique
Canadian Association for Community Living
Canadian Association of Midwives
Canadian Association of University Teachers
Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions
Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action
Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)
Canadian Health Coalition
Canadian Labour Congress
Canadian Union of Postal Workers STTP
Canadian Union of Public Employees
Canadian Union of Public Employees – Ontario
Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
Canada Without Poverty
Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs
Centro de Desarrollo Andino Sisay (Peru)
Comité de América Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de las Mujeres (Peru)
Comité des femmes Laval, Laurentides et Lanaudière et Abitibi-Témiscamingue
Canadian Women’s Foundation
DEMUS – Estudio para la Defensa de los Derechos de la Mujer (Peru)
Fédération des femmes du Québec
Federation of Medical Women of Canada
Femmes Autochtones du Québec
Femmes de l’Alliance de la fonction publique (Québec)
First United Church Community Ministry Society, Vancouver
Human Rights Research and Education Centre, University of Ottawa
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
International Women’s Rights – Manitoba
Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women
Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development
Inter Pares
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
La Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec
MATCH International Women’s Fund
National Association of Women and the Law
Native Women’s Association of Canada
Nobel Women’s Initiative
Ontario Federation of Labour
Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation
Oxfam Canada
Pacific Association of First Nations Women
Public Service Alliance of Canada
Save the Children Canada
Sexual Health Nova Scotia
Planned Parenthood Regina
SHORE Centre
Syndicat Québécois des Employées Et Employés de Service Section Local 298-FTQ
UFCW Canada
Union of BC Indian Chiefs
United Steelworkers
WAVAW Rape Crisis
West Coast LEAF
Women’s Legal Education & Action Fund (LEAF)
Women’s Shelter Canada
Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights
YWCA Canada
Dr. Pamela Palmater, Chair in Indigenous Governance, Ryerson University
Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot, Canada Research Chair in Global Indigenous Rights and Politics