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Missing, murdered Indigenous women inquiry flags coerced sterilization

OTTAWA — A lawyer representing Indigenous women who allege they were coerced into sterilization procedures after childbirth says it is not surprising the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls flagged the issue among its findings.

The commission, which released 231 recommendations last week, was asked by the federal government to probe all forms of violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Lawyer Alisa Lombard says “obstetric violence” clearly falls into that category, adding that numerous parties with standing at the inquiry made submissions on the issue, including the vice-chair of Saskatchewan’s Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations.

The inquiry’s final report says that Alberta and B.C. both repealed provincial sterilization acts in the 1970s but it says Indigenous women across the country tell stories of coerced sterilizations that continue even today.

It also notes the class-action lawsuit underway on behalf of Indigenous women in Saskatchewan who have provided evidence they were sterilized without their consent.

Lombard says the government needs to take very concrete measures with respect to prevention, punishment and reparations for women who have gone through these experiences, and international bodies have said the same.

In December, the United Nations Committee Against Torture called on Canada to act to address this issue.

The Canadian Press