Courtesy Jennifer Leason.
May 30, 2022
Taylor Institute Art Gallery hosts Sacred Bundles Unborn book launch and art exhibit
A dark, ongoing chapter in Canadian history is the focus of a new book being launched on June 4th, along with an art exhibit at the Taylor Institute Art Gallery.
Sacred Bundles Unborn by Morningstar Mercredi and The Firekeepers acknowledges the voices of women who have come forward as survivors of coerced or forced sterilization in Canada.
Coerced or forced sterilization is the practice of sterilizing women without free and informed consent. Although the precise number of women that have been victims of coerced or forced sterilization in Canada is unclear, there have been cases reported as recently as 2022.
The probability of thousands of Indigenous, Métis and Inuit children, women and men sterilized in Indian hospitals and residential schools is generational; consequently, it is difficult to estimate how many generations were sterilized under the guise of medical care. The practice of sterilizing Indigenous, Métis and Inuit peoples continues in Canada without accountability by medical practitioners performing or witnessing coerced or forced sterilizations.
Efforts aim to educate people about 'dark reality'
In 2019, human rights lawyer Alisa Lombard addressed the Canadian Senate Committee on Human Rights, representing more than 100 Indigenous women who claimed they were coerced or forced into sterilization.
Mercredi says her book also aims to educate people about the dark reality of Canada’s negligence of the human rights of Indigenous women and women of colour, who are at greater risk within the health system in their most vulnerable state during pregnancy.
Mercredi is an off-reserve member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in Treaty 8 Territory. She is a survivor of forced sterilization. She is an author, poet, researcher, social activist, producer and actress known for her role in the TV series Blackstone.
“It was important for me to document these ongoing events from our perspectives, our experiences, in our voice,” says Mercredi regarding the inspiration for the book.
Sterilization is still not criminalized in Canada. To speak to these experiences, not only as a survivor but also as an auntie, a mother and daughter of intergenerational trauma is important.
The Taylor Institute, along with support from the Office of Indigenous Engagement will host the book release and associated art exhibit.
The art exhibit features paintings and poetry from Dr. Jennifer Leason, PhD. Leason (Aniin Keesis Sagay Egette Kwe nindiznikaaz) is an off-reserve member of the Pine Creek Indian Band, Manitoba. She is a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Maternal Child Wellness and an associate professor at UCalgary.
“The exhibit is my way of contributing to this important conversation and raising public awareness of the treatment, rights, and matriarchal strength of Indigenous peoples,” says Leason.
UCalgary Provost Teri Balser will also be taking part in the event, which is free to attend. Registration is required.
This event involves sensitive and upsetting content, including images of violence, nudity and other graphic content. If you or anyone you know has experienced forced or coerced sterilization, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Date: Saturday, June 4, 2022
Time: 12 to 6 p.m. MT
Location: University of Calgary, Taylor Institute
ii’ taa’poh’to’p, the University of Calgary’s Indigenous Strategy, is a commitment to deep evolutionary transformation by reimagining ways of knowing, doing, connecting and being. Walking parallel paths together, “in a good way,” UCalgary is moving toward genuine reconciliation and Indigenization.