Preliminary search finds no reports of coerced sterilization to police: RCMP

Dozens of Indigenous women say they’ve been pressured into sterilizations they didn’t want

New RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki appears at a House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security in Ottawa on May 7, 2018. The head of the RCMP says the police force is looking into whether any complaints of forced or coerced sterilization were made to law-enforcement agencies in Canada, but that a preliminary review of its own records show there were none. In a letter to NDP health critic Don Davies, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki says the Mounties searched their national database but did not find any reports of forced or coerced sterilization. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick —>

The head of the RCMP says the police force is looking into whether any complaints about forced or coerced sterilizations have been made to law-enforcement agencies in Canada, but a preliminary review has not identified any.

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki’s comment is in a letter to NDP health critic Don Davies, who called on the Mounties in February to launch an investigation into all allegations of forced or coerced tubal ligations in Canada.

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

The Saskatoon Health Authority publicly apologized in 2017 after Indigenous women came forward to say they were coerced into such procedures while a proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed against Saskatchewan, the federal government and doctors.

READ MORE: Federal government plans examination of coerced sterilization

But while at least three federal probes have been launched, Lucki did not say the RCMP will launch its own investigation. Instead, she said any evidence of criminal activity should be reported to police — which at this point does not appear to have happened.

Neither the external review that led to the Saskatoon Health Authority’s apology nor the proposed class-action lawsuit identified any complainants who had reported their allegations to the police, Lucki wrote to Davies on March 20.

“A search of our national database was conducted,” she added. “However, no files of forced or coerced sterilization were found.”

The RCMP will work with commanding officers in each province and territory as well as with other police forces to determine if any complaints of forced or coerced sterilization were made, Lucki said.

However, the commissioner said, “it is important that any evidence of criminal activity be reported to the police of jurisdiction where offences are alleged to have taken place so that they can be properly investigated.”

An existing Criminal Code provision speaks to the involuntary termination of pregnancies. Another provision on aggravated assault applies to anyone “who wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the complainant.”

But critics have said a legal void remains around forced sterilization.

In December, chiefs at a meeting of the Assembly of First Nations in Ottawa passed a resolution to support changes to the Criminal Code to explicitly criminalize forced sterilization.

The federal government has so far rejected the push to change the Criminal Code, saying existing provisions forbid a range of criminal behaviour including coerced sterilization.

The Senate’s human-rights committee last week became the latest to probe such practices, with a House of Commons committee also studying it and the federal government working with provinces and territories to discuss the scope of the problem.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

PHOTOS: L.V. Rogers sends off its grad class

Check out our pictures of the festivities

Nine fires burning in West Kootenay

All fires considered to be lightning caused.

Castlegar mayor releases FCM itinerary

Bruno Tassone delivers promised report on activities at Quebec City municipal conference

COLUMN: 1919 – Police chief reminds drivers of streetcar etiquette

Greg Scott takes us back to a century ago in the files of the Nelson Daily News

Nelson archers host meet

The Nelson Rod and Gun Club hosted 78 archers

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

Most Read