UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"For this girl's sake, and society's, it is better that she be sterilized" : an Act Respecting Sterilization 1933-1973 Quesnel, Ange-Aimee


In 1933 the Provincial Government of British Columbia legalized the sterilizations of individuals at government-run mental hospitals and industrial schools. During the lifetime of The Act Respecting Sexual Sterilization, appealed in 1973, it has been estimated that 9 out of every ten people sterilized were women. Using the Essondale Report, the D.E. (Guardian ad litem) v. British Columbia (2003) supreme court case, and the Industrial School annual reports, this thesis examines the discourses of promiscuity and female sexual deviancy within the eugenic movement and Essondale. More specifically, it examines how these discourses affected the Act's implementation along gendered and racialized lines. In addition, this thesis contextualizes these case studies within larger colonial frameworks of race to better understand how eugenics functioned to reinforce colonial oppression and dominance within the province. This thesis addresses the various ways in which eugenic discourse of female promiscuity and feeblemindedness was constructed in relation to preconceived colonial gender and race formations that relied on the proper social and biological reproduction of citizens that separated women into legitimate and illegitimate reproducers.

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