Allegations of coerced sterilization need public inquiry: Alberta First Nations chief

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam calling for government to investigate

Ongoing concerns about coerced sterilization of Indigenous women is nothing short of a “crisis” that warrants a public inquiry, says a prominent Alberta First Nations leader.

In an interview, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam said concerns were brought directly to his attention by a member of his community north of Fort McMurray.

He fears others could have been affected, maybe without their knowledge.

“You see it — there’s others in the community that appear to be having the same symptoms without nobody knowing why and nobody questions anything,” he said. “You tend to wonder, was it done to them without their consent, without them knowing?”

A public inquiry is necessary to ensure politicians deal with the issue “once and for all,” Adam added.

“I am deeply sorry in regards to what has happened,” he said, aiming that message at victims.

Morningstar Mercredi, an Indigenous author from Adam’s community who says she had a pregnancy terminated and her left ovary and Fallopian tube removed against her will in the mid-1970s in Saskatoon, said she hopes more leaders speak out.

“We are talking about our women and children,” she said.

READ MORE: Federal government plans examination of coerced sterilization

She also said she personally took comfort knowing her own chief was addressing the issue publicly, after she approached him about doing so.

“He took a stand in a supportive manner and I trust he will use his role as a leader in the most effective, proactive manner that would ensure coerced sterilization of Indigenous women is not permitted to continue,” she said. “I think he’s a good example.”

The chief’s comments come as the federal government tries to pull together officials from the provinces and territories this month to discuss the issue. Quebec has already indicated it is not willing to participate.

Stopping coerced sterilizations must be part of reconciliation efforts with Indigenous Peoples, Adam said, adding he wants to see the Liberal government act to amend the Criminal Code to make it a specifically defined crime. In December, chiefs at a meeting of the Assembly of First Nations in Ottawa also passed a resolution to politically support changes to the Criminal Code to explicitly criminalize forced sterilization.

“Mr. Trudeau has to come out and do what’s right because this has been going on too long and somebody has to correct the problem,” Adam said. “It is a violation of human rights.”

The federal government has so far rejected the push to change the Criminal Code, saying existing provisions forbid a range of criminal behaviour including coerced sterilization. Currently, a provision on involuntary termination of pregnancies and another on aggravated assault applies to anyone “who wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the complainant.”

Alisa Lombard, a lawyer leading a proposed class action of Indigenous women who allege they endured coerced sterilizations in Saskatchewan, has said that explicitly outlawing coerced sterilization is the most concrete step the federal government can take in response to the grave allegations.

For its part, the federal NDP has urged that the RCMP immediately launch an investigation into all allegations of forced and coerced sterilizations in Canada, suggesting multiple, credible allegations of crimes have been made.

Morningstar said it was critical for Adam to communicate he believes the women coming forward with allegations, adding she also supports the push to outlaw coerced sterilization explicitly.

“One would think … why is the government not doing absolutely everything necessary to protect Indigenous women?” she said. “Shame on you, Canada.”

Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Lofty plans for Chilliwack school district revealed

Chilliwack school district draws up plan to add 2,900 student seats in five years

Agassiz study to look at drone use for pesticide application

The study will be the first in Canada to use drones to apply pesticides to farm fields

Chilliwack’s pediatric observation unit gets financial shot from trades workers

Unions and contractors donate more than $30,000 to Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation

Delays en route for Highway 7 in Harrison Mills

Road resurfacing will cause month-long delays for drivers travelling through Harrison Mills

The luckiest man in Agassiz finds more than 200 four-leaf clovers

Walt Hardinge has found more than 219 four-or-more leaf clovers this spring alone

B.C.’s fight to regulate bitumen through pipelines to go to Canada’s top court

BC Appeal Court judges found B.C. cannot restrict bitumen flow along Trans Mountain pipeline

Burnaby facility to dispose of 1,500 tonnes of Canada’s trash from Philippines

All 103 containers will be disposed of properly within Canada before the end of the summer

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

Man wants guilty plea revoked in 2012 collision in Abbotsford that killed Chilliwack woman

Michael Larocque was charged in relation to crash that killed Eileen Kleinfelder

High-risk sex offender released into Surrey

Earon Wayne Giles, a Newton “tag-team rapist,” was released from prison Friday and is now living in Surrey

Vancouver woman sexually assaulted after man follows her home; suspect at large

Police are looking for an Asian man in his 40s after the incident on Vancouver’s east side.

B.C. man, 30, arrested for driving his parents’ cars while impaired twice in one day

The Vancouver-area man was arrested after officers caught him driving impaired twice in one day

UPDATE: Vancouver man dies after crash between motorcycle, transport truck

Police believe speed was a factor in Thursday collision

Trial slated to start Monday for accused killer of Abbotsford cop

Oscar Arfmann faces first-degree murder for death of Const. John Davidson

Most Read