An Act of Genocide

Colonialism and the Sterilization of Aboriginal Women

By Karen Stote  

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During the 1900s eugenics gained favour as a means of controlling the birth rate among “undesirable” populations in Canada. Though many people were targeted, the coercive sterilization of one group has gone largely unnoticed. An Act of Genocide unpacks long-buried archival evidence to begin documenting the forced sterilization of Aboriginal women in Canada. Grounding this evidence within the context of colonialism, the oppression of women and the denial of Indigenous sovereignty, Karen Stote argues that this coercive sterilization must be considered in relation to the larger goals of Indian policy — to gain access to Indigenous lands and resources while reducing the numbers of those to whom the federal government has obligations. Stote also contends that, in accordance with the original meaning of the term, this sterilization should be understood as an act of genocide, and she explores the ways Canada has managed to avoid this charge. This lucid, engaging book explicitly challenges Canadians to take up their responsibilities as treaty partners, to reconsider their history and to hold their government to account for its treatment of Indigenous peoples.

  • EPUB
  • ISBN: 9781552667545
  • April 2015
  • $22.99
  • For sale worldwide
  • Kindle
  • ISBN: 9781552668092
  • June 2015
  • For sale worldwide

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  • The book is important because it gives a voice to those who had none or whose voices weren’t understood. It is heartbreaking to read of women going to a person meant to help them, only to find out later that those doctors took away their ability to have offspring.

    The book is research that should be read, digested, discussed and replied to across the country.

    — The Eastern Door (full review)

  • In An Act of Genocide, Karen Stote examines a controversial topic of which few Canadians are aware: the coercive sterilizations of Aboriginal women.

    — Morgan Grant (full review)


  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Eugenics, Feminism and the Woman Question
  • Indian Policy and Aboriginal Women
  • Sterilization, Birth Control and Abusive Abortions
  • Settling the Past
  • Canada, Genocide and Aboriginal Peoples
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Index


  • Karen Stote

    Karen Stote is an assistant professor of women and gender studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. She teaches courses on the history of Indian policy and Indigenous-settler relations, feminism and the politics of decolonization, and issues of environmental and reproductive justice.

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