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

    December 10, 2018

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    Sign our online petition to #DefendConsent

    (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:

    1. Aboriginal Front Door Society
    2. Aboriginal Legal Services
    3. Aboriginal Women’s Action Network
    4. Action Canada on Sexual Health and Rights
    5. Alberta Society for the Promotion of Sexual Health
    6. Alliance de la Fonction publique du Canada Montérégie – comité des femmes
    7. Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists – National
    8. Amnesty International Canada
    9. Amnistie internationale Canada Francophone
    10. Atira Women’s Resource Society
    11. The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic
    12. BC Native Women's Association
    13. British Columbia Civil Liberties Association - Association des libertés civiles de la Colombie-Britannique
    14. Canadian Association for Community Living
    15. Canadian Association of Midwives
    16. Canadian Association of University Teachers
    17. Canadian Civil Liberties Association
    18. Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions
    19. Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action
    20. Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)
    21. Canadian Health Coalition
    22. Canadian Labour Congress
    23. Canadian Union of Postal Workers STTP
    24. Canadian Union of Public Employees
    25. Canadian Union of Public Employees – Ontario
    26. Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
    27. Canada Without Poverty
    28. Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs
    29. Centro de Desarrollo Andino Sisay (Peru)
    30. Comité de América Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de las Mujeres (Peru)
    31. Comité des femmes Laval, Laurentides et Lanaudière et Abitibi-Témiscamingue
    32. Canadian Women’s Foundation
    33. DEMUS – Estudio para la Defensa de los Derechos de la Mujer (Peru)
    34. Fédération des femmes du Québec
    35. Federation of Medical Women of Canada
    36. Femmes Autochtones du Québec
    37. Femmes de l’Alliance de la fonction publique (Québec)
    38. First United Church Community Ministry Society, Vancouver
    39. Greenpeace
    40. Human Rights Research and Education Centre, University of Ottawa
    41. International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
    42. International Women’s Rights – Manitoba
    43. Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women
    44. Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development
    45. Inter Pares
    46. KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
    47. La Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec
    48. MATCH International Women’s Fund
    49. National Association of Women and the Law
    50. Native Women’s Association of Canada
    51. Nobel Women’s Initiative
    52. Ontario Federation of Labour
    53. Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation
    54. Oxfam Canada
    55. Pacific Association of First Nations Women
    56. Public Service Alliance of Canada
    57. Save the Children Canada
    58. Sexual Health Nova Scotia
    59. Planned Parenthood Regina  
    60. SHORE Centre
    61. Syndicat Québécois des Employées Et Employés de Service Section Local 298-FTQ
    62. UFCW Canada
    63. Union of BC Indian Chiefs
    64. United Steelworkers
    65. WAVAW Rape Crisis 
    66. West Coast LEAF
    67. Women’s Legal Education & Action Fund (LEAF)
    68. Women’s Shelter Canada
    69. Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights
    70. YWCA Canada
    71. Dr. Pamela Palmater, Chair in Indigenous Governance, Ryerson University
    72. Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot, Canada Research Chair in Global Indigenous Rights and Politics
    rights