UN com­mit­tee tells Canada to do more on ster­il­iza­tions of Indige­nous women

Journal Pioneer - - CANADA - BY KRISTY KIRKUP

Hu­man-rights or­ga­ni­za­tions and the fed­eral NDP de­manded on Fri­day that the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment act on a re­port by the UN Com­mit­tee Against Tor­ture de­tail­ing the “ex­ten­sive forced or co­erced ster­il­iza­tion” of Indige­nous women and girls in Canada. The Geneva-based com­mit­tee said Canada must en­sure all such al­le­ga­tions are im­par­tially in­ves­ti­gated and that those re­spon­si­ble are held to ac­count. The state needs to take leg­isla­tive and pol­icy mea­sures to stop women from be­ing ster­il­ized against their will, the United Na­tions said.

The re­port confirms Canada is tor­tur­ing Indige­nous women through forced ster­il­iza­tion, NDP MP Rachel Blaney said in the House of Com­mons.

“Do the Lib­er­als not un­der­stand that this is a stain on our coun­try, a stain on ev­ery one of us in this House?” she said dur­ing ques­tion pe­riod. “Why are the Lib­er­als tol­er­at­ing forced ster­il­iza­tion of Indige­nous women?”

Prior to the re­lease of the re­port, Jus­tice Min­is­ter Wil­son-Ray­bould’s of­fice said the

gov­ern­ment is tak­ing a “pub­lichealth ap­proach” to the is­sue, though the gov­ern­ment be­lieves ev­ery­one must re­ceive cul­tur­ally safe health ser­vices no mat­ter where they live. Wil­son-Ray­bould’s par­lia­men­tary sec­re­tary Arif Vi­rani re­it­er­ated that mes­sage as he an­swered Blaney’s ques­tion.

“The co­erced ster­il­iza­tion of Indige­nous women is a se­ri­ous vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights and it is com­pletely un­ac­cept­able,” he said.

Out­side the Com­mons, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional Canada’s gen­der-rights cam­paigner Jackie Hansen in­sisted that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment needs to do things more con­crete than con­demn­ing it when women have their abil­ity to have chil­dren taken away. “I think what ev­ery­one wants to see is this prac­tice ended,” she told a news con­fer­ence on Par­lia­ment Hill. “What we want to see is a firm com­mit­ment from gov­ern­ment to de­mon­strate how that is go­ing to hap­pen.” Hansen’s or­ga­ni­za­tion has called on the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to ap­point a spe­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive to hear from Indige­nous women co­erced into be­ing ster­il­ized to learn what jus­tice would look like for sur­vivors.

The UN com­mit­tee’s re­port speaks to the lack of ac­tion to ad­dress the is­sue, Hansen added. “We re­ally look for­ward to Canada’s re­sponse to how it is go­ing to im­ple­ment the strong rec­om­men­da­tions is­sued by the com­mit­tee against tor­ture,” she said. “It is clear that there is stigma, there is shame around this is­sue and very dif­fi­cult for women to come for­ward and re­port what has hap­pened to them.”

Indige­nous women and girls de­serve the same level of re­spect as any­one else when they re­ceive med­i­cal ser­vices, said Na­tive Women’s As­so­ci­a­tion Pres­i­dent Fran­cyne Joe.


Fran­cyne Joe, Pres­i­dent, Na­tive Women’s As­so­ci­a­tion of Canada, right, looks on as Jacque­line Hansen, Gen­der Rights Cam­paigner, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional Canada talks as hu­man rights groups re­act to a UN com­mit­tee against tor­ture re­port rec­om­men­da­tions on ster­il­iza­tion of indige­nous women with­out con­sent dur­ing a press con­fer­ence on Par­lia­ment Hill in Ot­tawa on Fri­day.

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