Alberta apologizes for forced sterilization

The government of Alberta has apologized for one of the darker chapters in the province's history: forced sterilization of more than 2,800 people.

In his apology, Premier Ralph Klein said it was unfortunate that the operations happened, but he didn't call them criminal, because they were legal at the time.

"We extend regrets for the actions of another government, in another period of time. It's unfortunate," Klein said Tuesday.

To go along with the apology, the government is offering about $82 million to one group of 246 victims: roughly $325,000 each. Six hundred others settled last year.

The sterilizations happened between 1928 and 1970. They were designed to prevent mentally and physically disabled people from reproducing.

Ken Nelson was one of those victims. He spent years at the provincial training school for "mental defectives," even though it was later determined he was of average intelligence.

"This is a milestone in Alberta's history," said Nelson Tuesday."And let's hope that wherever this is mentioned, that something like this will never happen to anybody again. "

The government has paid out a total of $142 million in two major compensation packages. It says only a handful of outstanding claims remain now and it intends to settle them.

Though it was a day of jubilation for the sterilization victims, it was tempered by things that cannot change.

"An apology will never undo what the government did to us," says sterilization victim Delores Flamont. " I accept it now. But it won't fix it."