Genocidal acts

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I will try to marshal the arguments but first I must follow my heart. And my heart is angry.

I remember back in 2001, when Mathew Coon Come faced a torrent of denunciation as AFN National Grand Chief because he said Canada had engaged in genocide against its Indigenous population. The Canadian government was outraged, and some First Nation Chiefs joined the feds in condemning him.

Canada tried to soften the harshness of the term of genocide by saying it was cultural genocide. As if it was any more acceptable. The legal definition of genocide, according to the United Nations includes “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part 1; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

In other words, genocidal acts include programs intended to prevent procreation, including involuntary sterilization. That means that Canada ignored – and continues to ignore – the Geneva Convention, which is a party to.

Most Canadians know about residential schools, but fewer are aware of the medical experiments conducted on Indigenous children to see how they reacted to a lack of vitamins or food. Some have heard about the campaign to forcibly sterilize Indigenous women, but think it was back in the 1930s. Think again.

According to Ontario Senator Yvonne Boyer, a Métis nurse, reports of forced sterilization are surfacing in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and the territories.

Tubal ligations carried out on unwilling Indigenous women is one of the “most heinous” practices in health care happening across Canada, says Senator Boyer. She wants the Senate to study the scope of the issue nationally.

“If it’s happened in Saskatoon, it has happened in Regina, it’s happened in Winnipeg, it’s happened where there’s a high population of Indigenous women,” Boyer told the CBC.

Some Indigenous women felt pushed into signing consent forms for the procedures while they were in active labour or on operating tables, Boyer added.

We all want to think that this evil would never happen in this day and age. We are better than that now, we believe.

As Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said, “It is wrong, it is immoral, it is a gross violation of human rights and this dehumanizing practice must stop.”

Perhaps we need to castrate a few male politicians to make them understand there might be a problem with this practice. Let’s not give them a choice, just like those women who really didn’t have one.

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