'I really couldn't do anything': Saskatoon woman recalls tubal ligation

Sylvia Tuckanow says she underwent a forced tubal ligation procedure in 2001.

Sylvia Tuckanow recalls she was forced to have tubal ligation procedure 14 years ago

Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon. (Trevor Bothorel/CBC)

It's been 14 years since Sylvia Tuckanow had her tubes tied against her will in Saskatoon, but she remembers the experience as if it happened yesterday.

After hearing Melika Popp's story of being forced to have the sterilization procedure, Tuckanow decided she too would speak out about her experience with tubal ligation.

"It was traumatic for me," Tuckanow said, recalling how, in 2001, she had just given birth to her sixth child. She was in Royal University Hospital and was free from drugs and alcohol at the time.

I'm a First Nations person, who's going to believe me.- Sylvia Tuckanow

Tuckanow said she remembers being talked into having the procedure. But  when she was on her way to surgery  she decided otherwise, recalling she felt she had been under pressure.

"After I got the epidural, they took me down to surgery in a wheelchair and put me in the hallway there," said Tuckanow.  "Then I was thinking, 'No, I can't go through with this. I've got to get out of here, I've got to get out of here.'"

Tuckanow said she tried to wheel herself back to the maternity ward but was stopped by a doctor who quickly pushed her wheelchair to the surgery room where two nurses surrounded her.

"They were giving me another needle in my back and the two nurses were holding me on my side," she said. As that was happening, she remembers saying, "I don't want to do this."

Tuckanow said she cried through the surgery and she remembers the smell of burning tissue.

She says she buried the memory away until hearing that other aboriginal women had gone through the same experience. 

"I felt like I really couldn't do anything," Tuckanow said, about not having lodged a complaint. "I'm a First Nations person, who's going to believe me?"

The Saskatoon Health Region sent a statement after CBC News requested an interview. 

"Feeling pressured to consent to a procedure is not what we would want any patient to experience. It is very important for Saskatoon Health Region to hear directly from these women, and any of our patients, who have concerns about how they were treated or their care," the statement said. 

"We encourage anyone with concerns to call our client representatives at 306-655-0250 so we can start these confidential and important conversations. We want to hear about the concerns being raised by these women and we are committed to review what has happened. We are currently planning for an external, independent review of the concerns that have been brought forward."


  • A previous version of this story did not include a statement from the Saskatoon Health Region. This story has since been updated to include the statement.
    Jan 13, 2016 3:40 PM CT