USW: Joint Statement Calling on Canada to End Sterilization without Consent

The United Steelworkers is one of 72 organizations to endorse the joint statement from Amnesty International Canada, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, and Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, calling for government action to #DefendConsent and end #ForcedSterilization of Indigenous women in Canada.

Pressure is mounting for all levels of government and health bodies, with strong federal government leadership, to address the issue of sterilization without consent with great urgency. On Friday, the UN Committee Against Torture released a report calling on Canada to take immediate action to end this grave violation of human rights. Also on Friday, four questions were asked in the House of Commons on this issue. Today, the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women is holding a briefing on the issue.

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

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


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