Policy Sectors

Forced Sterilization

Indigenous women have constitutional, reproductive, and human rights that must not be violated; their free, prior and informed consent must be respected, upheld and defended.

Our goals are to:

  • NWAC advocates against forced sterilization by educating Indigenous women on their rights.
  • NWAC supports Indigenous women and 2SLGBTQQIA individuals battling infringed rights, including forced sterilization, through international human rights monitoring mechanisms.
  • NWAC is committed to ensuring Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA individuals, have access to safe health, sexual health, and perinatal health services.

Summary:

In the past, many provinces in Canada had laws that allowed the forcible sterilization of many marginalized groups, including Indigenous women. This is a violation of the human rights, Charter Rights and Reproductive Rights of Indigenous women and girls. Although those laws are no longer in effect, there have been reports of forced and coerced sterilization in Canadian hospitals as recently as 2019.

Forced sterilization has been occurring since at least the 1930s. It has been reported that some Indigenous women were led to believe that the procedure (tubal ligation) was reversible or that they would still be able to have children in the future. In some cases, Indigenous women expressly denied consent to the surgeries which were performed without consent.

NWAC has been working with partners: Amnesty International, Action Canada, and Inter Pares, to bring national attention to this serious issue, as well as to advocate for immediate action by the Canadian government. NWAC has issued statements before the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, supporting survivors of forced sterilization.