The Current

Aboriginal women say they were sterilized against their will in hospital

An aboriginal woman in Saskatoon alleges she experienced forced sterilization at a local hospital. And she's not alone. Today, we hear those stories and how they are part of a too-common pattern in our country's history.
Melika Popp said she was sterilized against her will when she delivered her 2nd child in 2008. (Jennifer Quesnel/CBC)

"I'm laying there, scared enough, not wanting this done, telling her I didn't want it done. All of a sudden I smell something burning. If I could've moved my legs, I probably would've kicked her."- Brenda Pelletier on being sterilized against her will

Brenda Pelletier checked in to Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon, five years ago to give birth to her baby girl. She left, with her tubes tied. The tubal ligation procedure happened, she says, after she was pressured into it by hospital staff, while she was in a vulnerable state.

And as a Métis woman, Brenda Pelletier's experience appears not to be an isolated case.

At least three other aboriginal women have come forward to say that they too were pressured to be sterilized at the Saskatoon hospital in recent years.

Melika Popp is one of them. She says she was pressured into being sterilized when she delivered her 2nd child in 2008 at the Royal University Hospital.

"They ultimately assured me that it could be reversed... and I believed them, I trusted them at face value."- Melika Popp on being sterilized in a Saskatoon hospital 

The Saskatoon Health Region is planning an external, independent review into the allegations that women were pressured to consent to tubal ligations. 

According to Karen Stotet stories like Melika Popp's and Brenda Pelletier's fit into a bitter pattern in Canada's history.

Karen Stote is an an assistant professor of women and gender studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. She's the author of "An Act of Genocide: Colonialism and the Sterilization of Aboriginal Women".

If you have thoughts on this subject – or your own story to tell  –  please get in touch.

This segment was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar.