Seven facts about eugenics in Canada
- Of the more than 3000 eugenic sterilizations in Canada, the vast majority were performed in Alberta under the direction of a Eugenics Board.
- While eugenic sterilization waned across the world following the end of the Second World War in 1945, Alberta’s sterilization program continued until the repeal of the Sexual Sterilization Act of Alberta in 1972.
- Leilani Muir won a landmark lawsuit against the province of Alberta in 1996 for wrongful confinement and sterilization; two documentaries, The Sterilization of Leilani Muir (1996) and Surviving Eugenics (2015) engage general audiences with issues that the case and its aftermath raise, and their significance for Canadians today.
- The explicit or implicit grounds for eugenic sterilization were typically that a person’s undesirable mental or physical disabilities were thought to be heritable, and that such a person was thus unsuitable to parent.
- Although central amongst those targeted by eugenic practices were people with a variety of disabilities, many children institutionalized, sterilized, and otherwise subject to eugenic practices in Canada did not in fact have disabilities.
- Members of other marginalized groups–single mothers, First Nations and Métis people, eastern Europeans, and poor people—were disproportionately represented amongst those subjected to eugenic ideas and practices, such as sterilization.
- The legacy of eugenics, expressed in sterilization laws and in social policies concerning immigration, schooling, and prenatal screening, remains with us today.