Eugenics in Canada's Past


1923 Red Deer - Alberta's Provincial Training School for
"Mental Defectives "
was considered a progressive facility:
humane, well-run, evolving as attitudes towards
feeble-mindedness evolved" (p. 31)

The facility offered custodial care plus occupational therapy
and vocational training.

1928 Alberta passed the Sexual Sterilization Act (B. C. soon followed).

1928-1965 - John MacEachran  was Chairman of the Alberta Eugenics Board

Gave many speeches to interested groups like
Alberta Farm Women's Association, often quoting Plato
on the point of "...weak fathers begetting weaker sons"  

  The training School changed its name to the
Michener Centre and changed the names of 'inmates'
into 'trainees', into 'students', and further into 'clients'

While these changes occurred so did the frequency of
sterilizations increase where they were spending as little
as five minutes to 'rubber stamp' cases that once took half
a day to deliberate upon.


Release and integration into public life was a reason to perform sterilizations

"Young lesbians, for example, were proposed for oophrectomies
- complete removal of the ovaries - instead of the more
common place excision of the fallopian tubes. Such invasive
surgery did much to extinguish sexual desire. Similarly,
castration was requested for the most sexually aggressive boys" (p. 70).

"John MacEachran . . . briskly signing sterilization order after
sterilization order: for battered children who later graduated
from grade twelve; for native kids from families who spoke only
Cree or Blackfoot; for abused girls whose complaint was incest or
sexual assault in their family homes; for bewildered teenagers with
hearing or speech problems, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis,
rare genetic defects of the hands or feet." (p. 70)

 

Lelani Muir in 1995 (age 51) came to widespread public attention

At puberty was wrongfully classified as a " moron" and sterilized

in 1965 when she left the school - first found out what had been done.

in 1989 her IQ was tested as "normal", living in Victoria B.C.
working as a waitress

in 1996 she finally received (after 7 year fight)
$740,000 for damages and $230,000 for legal fees,
she is but one of many.

  CBC the current Part 2

1996 Douglas Wahlsten of University of Alberta
started action to have MacEachran's name removed
from a Psychology Department Seminar room,
and an invited lecture series.

Likewise U of A Philosophy department also have
stopped awarding the MacEachran Medal


 More Significantly the history of Residential Schools and the Indian Hospitals are also placed of atrocities of all sorts including cultural genocide. The Honorable Justice ( Senator) Murray Sinclair lead the Truth and Reconcilliation commission has now turned to the process of reconcilliation. He and other leaders are determined to set things right after centuries of colonization and hegemonic control by Canadians of European descent.

Gary Geddes has also recently chronical Medicine unbundled: A journey through the minefields of Indigenous healthcare.

References

Geddes, G. (2017) Medicine unbundled: A journey through the minefields of Indigenous healthcare. Victoria: Heritage

Gary Geddes and Joan Morris (2017) Book Launch for Medicine Unbundled, University of Victoria, Feb 23, 2017.

Pringle, H. (1997). Alberta Barren - Saturday Night, 112 (5 - June), 30-37; 70, 74

Wahlsten, D. (1998). The Eugenics of John M. MacEachran warrants
revocation of honours. History and Philosophy of Psychology Bulletin,
10 (2), 22-25.