Ottawa rejects resolution by First Nations chiefs to outlaw coerced sterilization

The Liberal government does not plan to change the Criminal Code to explicitly outlaw coerced sterilization, rejecting a resolution passed by First Nations chiefs.

Heather Bear, the vice-chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations that includes 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan, said Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, a former Assembly of First Nations regional chief herself, in British Columbia, must ``do the right thing.''

Bear says explicitly banning coerced sterilization would be a way to put an end to it, adding she's ``really surprised'' in the government's stance.

Dozens of Indigenous women say they've been pressured into sterilization procedures they didn't want, or had them carried out without being asked when they were seeing doctors for other reasons.

Bear said coerced sterilization must be criminalized to ensure legal accountability.

Wilson-Raybould's office, meantime, says it's is taking a public-health approach to the issue, adding existing provisions within the Criminal Code meant to forbid ``a range of criminal behaviour'' including forced sterilizations.