In 1928, Alberta introduced the Sexual Sterilization Act which promoted the surgical sterilization of "mental defectives". This policy remained in effect in Alberta until 1972 and in British Columbia until 1973.

News & Upcoming Events

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About the Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada CURA project

The ideas and practices aimed at improving "human breeding" known as eugenics were influential across North America in the first half of the 20th-century. Undertaken by 30 research scholars and sterilization survivors, and 12 community partners, Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada directly engages communities in developing accessible resources to bring to light the history of eugenics in Canada. It also creates a communal space to explore the relationships between that history and current policies and practices.

The Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada will:

  • create innovative academic resources for scholars across academic fields, including history, sociology, philosophy, medicine, law, and education
  • develop a long-term strategy for maintaining and expanding these resources
  • actively involve community organizations and vulnerable individuals whose stories have most often been left out of the Canadian collective memory
  • highlight the contemporary significance of a neglected part of Canadian history via curriculum bundling, public dialogues, and barrier-free digital accessibility

Facts about eugenics in Western Canada

  • the vast majority of eugenic sterilizations in Canada were performed in Alberta
  • British Columbia was the only other province in Canada to pass involuntary sterilization legislation that was explicitly eugenic
  • in most other North American jurisdictions eugenics waned following the Second World War, Alberta's eugenic sterilization program continued until the repeal of the Sexual Sterilization Act of Alberta in 1972
  • it was against the Province of Alberta that Leilani Muir won a landmark legal case in 1996 for wrongful sterilization and confinement
  • the typical grounds for eugenic sterilization were that a person's undesirable physical or mental conditions were heritable, and that those persons would not make suitable parents
  • central amongst those targeted by such eugenic practices were people with a variety of disabilities, especially (but not only) developmental disabilities.
  • many other marginalized groups – single mothers, First Nations and Métis people, eastern Europeans, and poor people - were disproportionately represented amongst those subjected to eugenic ideas and practices, such as sterilization.

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People

  • Rob Wilson - Principal Investigator

  • Rob Wilson Photo

    Rob is currently a professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Alberta, Canada. He is also the Director of Philosophy for Children Alberta. Rob is the team organizer in the What Sorts Network, an international network of more than 60 researchers and community members anchored in Canada and aimed at exploring issues that arise from the question: "What Sorts of People Should There Be?" He is also the Project Director for the Community University Research Alliance project, Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada. Rob received his BA with First Class Honours from the University of Western Australia in 1986, and his MA and Ph.D. in philosophy from Cornell University, United States in 1990 and 1992, respectively.

    Rob is a highly energetic thinker with a love of scholarship and teaching. He often has a variety of projects on the go at any given time, and yet he devotes a great deal of attention to fostering the professional growth of his students. His commitment to scholarship is evidenced by his many publications and projects, and his dedication to teaching and pedagogy is illustrated by his contributions to Philosophy for Children Alberta. Among his areas of specialization, Rob includes philosophy of mind and cognitive science, philosophy of biology, and philosophy of science. Rob is also interested in the areas of ethics, political philosophy, history of philosophy and disability studies.

    Rob has published a great deal in these areas, and recent publications that relate to the Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada project include

    • 2009, How to Situate Cognition: Letting Nature Take its Course. (with Andy Clark) in M. Aydede and P. Robbins (editors), "The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition", pp.55-77.
    • 2008, A Conceptual and Empirical Framework for the Social Distribution of Cognition: The Case of Memory. Cognitive Systems Research, 9 (1-2) March 2008, pp.33-51. Coauthors: Amanda Barnier, John Sutton, and Celia Harris, Macquarie University.
    • 2007, Social Reality and Institutional Facts: Sociality Within and Without Intentionality. In Savas L. Tsohatzidis (editor), "Intentional Acts and Institutional Facts: Essays on John Searle's Social Ontology" (Dordrecht: Springer), 139-153.
    • 2005, Collective Memory, Group Minds, & the Extended Mind Thesis. special issue Cognitive Processing, 6 (December 2005): 227-236.

    To find out more about Rob, visit hisWeb Site

  • Moyra Lang - Project Coordinator
  • Moyra is the Project Coordinator for the Community University Research Alliance project, Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada. She received a Master of Library and Information Studies degree from the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta, Canada, in 2009; and before that, she received a BA (with Distinction) in 2007 from the University of Alberta. Moyra has a great deal of leadership experience, including more than half a dozen years as an administrative manager for a small business and half a decade as the Project Coordinator for the Alberta Status of Women Action Committee on the Status of Women.

    Moyra is deeply involved in community organizing and has volunteered extensively with local organizations to address issues of poverty, prostitution, literacy, queer arts and culture, and community building. She believes in the importance of community involvement and social responsibility, and among her interests, Moyra includes information literacy, language, expression, inclusion, and diversity.

    Moyra has authored and edited several publications that address themes raised in the Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada project. Below is a selection of her publications.

    • Samek, Toni, Moyra Lang, and K.R. Roberto, eds. 2010. She Was a Booklegger: Remembering Celeste West. Duluth, MN: Library Juice Press.
    • Lang, Moyra. 2010. Remember: Viva the Library Revolution! Viva Revolting Librarians! In "She Was a Booklegger: Remembering Celeste West", edited by Toni Samek, Moyra Lang and K.R. Roberto. Duluth, MN: Library Juice Press.
    • Lang, Moyra. 2009. Library Rhetoric: The CLA Statement of Diversity and Inclusion and LGBTQ Advocacy. Progressive Librarian, Issue 32 Winter/Summer. Peer-Reviewed.

The Eugenics Archives project consists of five teams

    Eugenics Frames

  • Led by Rob Wilson

  • Rob Wilson Photo

    Rob is currently a professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Alberta, Canada. He is also the Director of Philosophy for Children Alberta. Rob is the team organizer in the What Sorts Network, an international network of more than 60 researchers and community members anchored in Canada and aimed at exploring issues that arise from the question: "What Sorts of People Should There Be?" He is also the Project Director for the Community University Research Alliance project, Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada. Rob received his BA with First Class Honours from the University of Western Australia in 1986, and his MA and Ph.D. in philosophy from Cornell University, United States in 1990 and 1992, respectively.

    Rob is a highly energetic thinker with a love of scholarship and teaching. He often has a variety of projects on the go at any given time, and yet he devotes a great deal of attention to fostering the professional growth of his students. His commitment to scholarship is evidenced by his many publications and projects, and his dedication to teaching and pedagogy is illustrated by his contributions to Philosophy for Children Alberta. Among his areas of specialization, Rob includes philosophy of mind and cognitive science, philosophy of biology, and philosophy of science. Rob is also interested in the areas of ethics, political philosophy, history of philosophy and disability studies.

    Rob has published a great deal in these areas, and recent publications that relate to the Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada project include

    • 2009, How to Situate Cognition: Letting Nature Take its Course. (with Andy Clark) in M. Aydede and P. Robbins (editors), "The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition", pp.55-77.
    • 2008, A Conceptual and Empirical Framework for the Social Distribution of Cognition: The Case of Memory. Cognitive Systems Research, 9 (1-2) March 2008, pp.33-51. Coauthors: Amanda Barnier, John Sutton, and Celia Harris, Macquarie University.
    • 2007, Social Reality and Institutional Facts: Sociality Within and Without Intentionality. In Savas L. Tsohatzidis (editor), "Intentional Acts and Institutional Facts: Essays on John Searle's Social Ontology" (Dordrecht: Springer), 139-153.
    • 2005, Collective Memory, Group Minds, & the Extended Mind Thesis. special issue Cognitive Processing, 6 (December 2005): 227-236.

    To find out more about Rob, visit hisWeb Site

  • Alexandra Minna Stern
  • Stern Photo

    Professor in the History of Medicine

    University of Michigan

    Web Site
  • Molly Ladd-Taylor
  • Associate Professor in the Department of History

    York University

    Web Site
  • Paul Weindling
  • Paul Weindling Photo

    Professor in the History of Medicine

    Oxford Brookes University

    Web Site
  • Lene Koch
  • Lene Koch Photo

    Research professor at the Department of Health Services Research

    University of Copenhagen

    Web Site
  • Paul Lombardo
  • Paul Lombardo Photo

    Professor of Law

    Georgia State University

    Web Site
  • Douglas Wahlsten
  • Professor of Psychology in the Faculty of Science and Adjunct Professor in the Division of Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine

    University of Alberta

    Web Site
  • Kyle Whitfield
  • Kyle Whitfield Photo

    Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Extension and an Adjunct Assistant Professor with the Centre for Health Promotion Studies

    University of Alberta

    Web Site
  • Joanne Faulkner
  • ARC Research Fellow in the School of History and Philosophy

    University of New South Wales

    Web Site
  • Michael Billinger
  • Physical anthropologist and privacy law specialist

    Web Site
  • Erika Dyck
  • Erika Dyck Photo

    Erika is an associate professor and a tier 2 Canada Research Chair in the History of Medicine in the Department of History at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. In 1997, she received her BA from Dalhousie University, Canada. Erika received a MA in 2000 from the University of Saskatchewan, and she received her Ph.D in 2005 from McMaster University, Canada.

    Erika is a bright, young historian with a penchant for working collaboratively with marginalized groups to uncover questionable practices in the history of medicine. In particular, she has written extensively on the use of LSD and other psychedelic drugs to treat psychiatric patients during the mid-twentieth century in the prarie provinces of Western Canada. Among her specific interests in the history of medicine, Erika includes psychiatry and mental health, eugenics, deinstitutionalization, medical experimentation and moral regulation. She is currently engaged in two major research projects related to the history of mental health and psychiatry in western Canada. One is a CIHR-funded collaborative project on the history of the closure of long-stay mental hospitals, called Open Doors/Closed Ranks: Locating Mental Health after the Asylum. The second project, funded by SSHRC, she hopes will culminate in a monograph called Eugenic Frontiers, which compares popular and political attitudes towards eugenic sterilization in Alberta and Saskatchewan from 1920 to 1975.

    For more on Erika, visit herWeb Site

  • Gregor Wolbring
  • Gregor Wolbring Photo

    Gregor is currently an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Medicine with the Department of Community Health Sciences in the Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies Program at the University of Calgary, Canada. He is a part-time professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa, Canada; an adjunct faculty member in the Critical Disability Studies Department at the University of York, Canada; and a founding member and distinguished scholar with the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University, United States. He wrote his Ph.D Thesis from 1989 & #150; 1992 at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics, Frankfurt a.M and the University of Frankfurt a.M., Germany.

    Gregor is both a bioethicist and a biochemist, a philosopher and a scientist, a historian and an expert on nanotechnology. He is as likely to be interested in discussing the moral implications of prenatal genetic screening as he is in discussing the structure of a protein molecule. Among his many and varied interests, Gregor includes ability and ableism; the history of thalidomide and thalidomiders; the social, legal, and ethical issues surrounding science and technology; nanoscale technology and molecular manufacturing; aging, immortality, and transhumanism; and personhood and human rights.

    Gregor has written prolificly on these subjects over the last 10 years, producing more than 20 book chapters, 30 peer-reviewed articles, and 70 non-peer-reviewed articles.

    For more information on Gregor, visit his Web Site

  • John Sutton
  • John Sutton Photo

    Professor

    Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science - Macquarie University, Sydney Australia

    Web Site
  • Wendy Kline
  • Wendy Kline Photo

    Professor

    Department of History, University of Cincinnati

    Web Site
  • Karen Stote
  • PhD student

    Interdisciplinary Studies Program - University of New Brunswick

  • Paul Weindling
  • Paul Weindling Photo

    Professor in the History of Medicine

    Oxford Brookes University

    Web Site

    Traditional Archives +

  • Led by Erika Dyck

  • Erika Dyck Photo

    Erika is an associate professor and a tier 2 Canada Research Chair in the History of Medicine in the Department of History at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. In 1997, she received her BA from Dalhousie University, Canada. Erika received a MA in 2000 from the University of Saskatchewan, and she received her Ph.D in 2005 from McMaster University, Canada.

    Erika is a bright, young historian with a penchant for working collaboratively with marginalized groups to uncover questionable practices in the history of medicine. In particular, she has written extensively on the use of LSD and other psychedelic drugs to treat psychiatric patients during the mid-twentieth century in the prarie provinces of Western Canada. Among her specific interests in the history of medicine, Erika includes psychiatry and mental health, eugenics, deinstitutionalization, medical experimentation and moral regulation. She is currently engaged in two major research projects related to the history of mental health and psychiatry in western Canada. One is a CIHR-funded collaborative project on the history of the closure of long-stay mental hospitals, called Open Doors/Closed Ranks: Locating Mental Health after the Asylum. The second project, funded by SSHRC, she hopes will culminate in a monograph called Eugenic Frontiers, which compares popular and political attitudes towards eugenic sterilization in Alberta and Saskatchewan from 1920 to 1975.

    Still in the early stages of her career, Erika has published a great deal on issues related to the Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada project. Below is a sample of some of those writings.

    • Building an 'Ideal Society': Mixing Politics and Health in Canadian Prairie Society. The Annual Review of Canadian Studies [Japanese Association for Canadian Studies] (2009) 7: 59-71.
    • Prairies, Psychedelics and Place: The Dynamics of Region in Psychiatric Research. Health and Place (2009) 15(3): 888-94.
    • Psychedelic Psychiatry: LSD from Clinic to Campus. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.
    • co-authored with John Mills, Trust Amply Recompensed�: Psychological Research At Weyburn Saskatchewan, 1957-1961. Journal for the History of Behavioural Studies (2008) 44(3): 199-218.
    • Land of the Living Sky with Diamonds: A Place for Radical Psychiatry? Journal of Canadian Studies (2007) 41(3): 42-66.
    • Hitting Highs at Rock Bottom: LSD Treatment for Alcoholism, 1950-1970. Social History of Medicine, (2006) 19(2): 313-29.
    • Psychedelic Pioneers�: Mental Health Research in Saskatchewan, 1945-1967. in J. Moran and D. Wright (eds) "Mental Health and Canadian Society: Historical Perspectives". Montreal: McGill-Queen's Press, 2006: 221-44.
    • Flashback: Psychiatric Experimentation with LSD in Historical Perspective. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry (2005) 50(7): 381-8.

    For more on Erika, visit herWeb Site

  • Geoffrey Reaume
  • Geoffrey Reaume Photo

    Associate professor of Critical Disabilities and Health Ethics

    York University

    Web Site
  • Kathryn Harvey
  • Archives Specialist

    Dalhousie University

  • Raymond Frogner
  • Associate Archivist (Private Records)

    University of Alberta

    Web Site
  • Frank Stahnisch
  • Frank Stahnisch Photo

    Associate Professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Community Health Sciences and the Department of History

    University of Calgary

    Web Site
  • Molly Ladd-Taylor
  • Associate Professor in the Department of History

    York University

    Web Site
  • Paul Lombardo
  • Paul Lombardo Photo

    Professor of Law

    Georgia State University

    Web Site
  • Paul Weindling
  • Paul Weindling Photo

    Professor in the History of Medicine

    Oxford Brookes University

    Web Site

    Surviving a Eugenics Past

  • Led by Nicola Fairbrother

  • Neighbourhood Bridges

  • Judy Lytton
  • Sterilization survivor
  • Leilani Muir
  • Leilani Muir Photo

    The first person to file a successful law suit against the province of Alberta, Canada for wrongful sterilization under the Sexual Sterilization Act of Alberta.

    Edmonton, Alberta

    blog
  • Glenn Griener
  • Associate Professor for the departments of Public Health Sciences and Philosophy

    University of Alberta

    Web Site
  • Kyle Whitfield
  • Kyle Whitfield Photo

    Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Extension and an Adjunct Assistant Professor with the Centre for Health Promotion Studies

    University of Alberta

    Web Site
  • Joanne Faulkner
  • ARC Research Fellow in the School of History and Philosophy

    University of New South Wales

    Web Site
  • John Sutton
  • John Sutton Photo

    Professor

    Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science - Macquarie University, Sydney Australia

    Web Site
  • Nick Supina III
  • Professional Fine Artist

    Edmonton, Alberta

    Web Site
  • Molly Ladd-Taylor
  • Associate Professor in the Department of History

    York University

    Web Site

    Post-Eugenic Futures

  • Led by Gregor Wolbring

  • Gregor Wolbring Photo

    Gregor is currently an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Medicine with the Department of Community Health Sciences in the Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies Program at the University of Calgary, Canada. He is a part-time professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa, Canada; an adjunct faculty member in the Critical Disability Studies Department at the University of York, Canada; and a founding member and distinguished scholar with the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University, United States. He wrote his Ph.D Thesis from 1989 & #150; 1992 at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics, Frankfurt a.M and the University of Frankfurt a.M., Germany.

    Gregor is both a bioethicist and a biochemist, a philosopher and a scientist, a historian and an expert on nanotechnology. He is as likely to be interested in discussing the moral implications of prenatal genetic screening as he is in discussing the structure of a protein molecule. Among his many and varied interests, Gregor includes ability and ableism; the history of thalidomide and thalidomiders; the social, legal, and ethical issues surrounding science and technology; nanoscale technology and molecular manufacturing; aging, immortality, and transhumanism; and personhood and human rights.

    Gregor has written prolificly on these subjects over the last 10 years, producing more than 20 book chapters, 30 peer-reviewed articles, and 70 non-peer-reviewed articles. Here is just a sample of some of the recent work Gregor has done related to the project, Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada:

    For more information on Gregor, visit his Web Site

  • Geoffrey Reaume
  • Geoffrey Reaume Photo

    Associate professor of Critical Disabilities and Health Ethics

    York University

    Web Site
  • Heidi Janz
  • Heidi Janz Photo

    Visiting scholar with the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre

    University of Alberta

    Web Site
  • Amy Kaler
  • Assistant Professor of Social Structure and Social Policy in the Department of Sociology

    University of Alberta

    Web Site
  • Douglas Wahlsten
  • Professor of Psychology in the Faculty of Science and Adjunct Professor in the Division of Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine

    University of Alberta

    Web Site
  • Michael Billinger
  • Physical anthropologist and privacy law specialist

    University of Alberta

    Web Site

    Technical Team

  • Led by Natasha Nunn

  • Natasha

    Creative Director

    Silversky Solutions - Edmonton Alberta

    Web Site
  • Michael Billinger
  • Physical anthropologist and privacy law specialist

    University of Alberta

    Web Site
  • Kathryn Harvey
  • Archives Specialist

    Dalhousie University

  • Raymond Frogner
  • Associate Archivist (Private Records)

    University of Alberta

    Web Site
  • Glenn Griener
  • Associate Professor for the departments of Public Health Sciences and Philosophy

    University of Alberta

    Web Site
  • Kyle Whitfield
  • Kyle Whitfield Photo

    Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Extension and an Adjunct Assistant Professor with the Centre for Health Promotion Studies

    University of Alberta

    Web Site
  • Colette Leung (Research Assistant)
  • Colette Leung Photo

    Research Assistant, Humanities Computing

    University of Alberta

    Web Site

For the past two years the Living Archives project has sponsored summer interns in Edmonton and Saskatchewan. For details on their projects, click on the names below.

    Saskatchewan 2011 Interns

  • Sheila Rae Gibbons
  • Sheila Gibbons Photo

    Sheila's research interests include intellectual and gender history, as well as the history of social movements. Her proposed thesis topic examines the relationship between rural women and the Alberta eugenics movement, particularly focusing on how these first-wave feminists dealt with ideological tension between their gender role, legal goals, and eugenic platform.

  • Justin Fisher
  • Fourth Year History Major (Honours)

    Heroes and Villains in Alberta Eugenics

    Justin provided content for the Heroes and Villains module. This module highlights the centrality of individual characters in the history of Eugenics in Alberta. It sets out to demonstrate the importance of their ideas and work while also emphasizing the complexity of their contributions to this history in presenting both a "heroic" and a "villainous" side of each individual. Justin’s work focused on three significant and controversial figures: John M. MacEachran, Robert C. Wallace and Leonard J. LeVann.

  • Rachel Malena
  • Rachel Malena Photo

    Third Year Political Studies Major, History minor

    The Prairie Messenger: A Catholic Perspective on Eugenics In Western Canada

    The Prairie Messenger is a weekly publication from the Catholic community in Muenster, SK. By gathering articles from 1923-1975, this community's perspective on sterilization, eugenics, and mental health comes into focus. The religious perspective is vital to a rounded understanding of medical history and gives us insight into the social context of eugenic sterilization.

  • Laura Shaw
  • Laura Shaw Photo

    Third year History major, accepted to Education

    Examining Newspapers and Exploring Relationships: Zotero Revised

    Over the past two summers, Laura’s project has been to create a bibliography of sources relevant to the history of eugenics, predominantly focused on Alberta and Canada. She has compiled the sources that her and the other interns have gathered through their research and individual projects using a bibliographic database called Zotero; there are approximately 400 sources in the bibliography thus far. Laura also began to search through major Canadian newspaper publications, finding all articles relevant to eugenics and organizing them by topic and category. It is hoped that these articles will later be used to provide content and context for aspects of the larger project.

  • Amanda Shea
  • Amanda Shea Photo

    Fourth year History Major (Honours)

    A Snapshot of History: Documents from the Alberta Hospital, Ponoka

    Summer 2011 found Amanda sifting through primary documents from the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury (formerly the Provincial Mental Hospital) in Ponoka Alberta. As she worked through files of memoirs, annual reports and other hospital related documents, she created document summaries otherwise known as metadata. The metadata will hopefully allow future researchers to easily evaluate and navigate the documents that are currently held at the Ponoka Museum and aid in future research. These documents are tremendously interesting and are certainly valuable sources for a variety of research topics.

  • Kristina Rissling
  • Kristina Rissling Photo

    5th year History Major.

    Review of the Vital Statistics Annual Reports for Red Deer and Ponoka Mental Hospitals 1925-1972.

    Kristina worked in conjunction with Keith Flysak to review and collect the data from the 1925 to 1972 Department of Public Health Annual Reports, specifically those of the Red Deer Provincial Training School, and Provincial Mental Hospital at Ponoka.

  • Keith Flysak
  • Shannon Colville

    Edmonton 2011 Interns

  • Amy Dyrbye
  • Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada Timeline Project

    The timeline project is designed to provide a means to present the history of eugenics, and particularly its enaction in Canada, in a manner that allows the public to explore it and related concepts more deeply. It consists of two parallel parts: a traditionally structured timeline, showing the overall progression, and a blog, which provides further information on each event, including multimedia and links to other resources. Both are designed to be updated continually as new information becomes available, and to present relevant current events.

  • Caroline Lyster
  • Caroline Lyster Photo

    Second Year Philosophy Major

    Discussion modules for high school biology

    My project involved the creation of discussion modules for high school biology related to ethical issues arising from increased knowledge about the human genome. I created 4 related modules about the Human Genome Project, genetic testing, genetic engineering and eugenics.

  • Faun Rice
  • Faun Rice Photo

    Third year Anthropology and Sociology Major

    Canadian Colonial History and Eugenics

    My project produced a module for the Social 30 Alberta curriculum that revisits Canada’s colonial history from different perspectives. It will be paired with a second module on training schools in Alberta (created by Joelle, another intern) and together these will be called ‘Institutionalization in Western Canada’. Two smaller manifestations of the colonial history project are one photographic contribution to the Collective Memory Project, and a written piece for blogging.

  • Joelle Tomek
  • Third year History Major

    Institutionalization in Western Canada: The Eugenics Movement

    The first project was a Social Studies 30-1 case study which belongs to a two-part module on the history of institutionalization in Western Canada. It emphasizes the role of the Alberta Provincial Training School in the province’s participation in the eugenics movement.

    The Language of Eugenics in Alberta

    The second project was a timeline which chronicles the evolution of language around eugenics and intellectual disability in Alberta legislation during the 20th century. Most of terms listed are found in laws passed from the 1920s to 1960s governing institutionalization of people with disabilities and management of their estates.

  • Joshua St. Pierre
  • Masters Student in Philosophy

    Stuttering and the Construction of the Disabled Speaker

    I wrote a paper theorizing stuttering from the angle of disability studies. In this work, I outlined stuttering not as a biological deficiency, but as a distinctly social phenomenon (implicating speakers and hearers) constructed by normative expectations of pace, efficiency and self-mastery which the stutterer fails to uphold. Stuttering is furthermore constructed by assumptions and significations of “proper” speech, and denotes a failure to speak as an impartial and invisible medium for communication.

  • Megan Bertagnolli
  • The Visual Culture of Eugenics: portraiture, mental hygiene and public perceptions

    My LAE project for the summer of 2011 was to broaden the scope of research I had previously started, which considered how the use of portrait style photography was used as a tool to promote eugenics to the general public in the 1920s prior to the implementation of the Sexual Sterilization Act of Alberta (1928). Two new prongs of research have expanded from this point of origin. While venues such as the Edmonton Exhibition displayed goods produced by the residents of provincial training schools and photographs that were meant to show the success of these institutions, other evidence suggests that these images fail to reflect the actual living conditions. As such, the first divergence seeks to address the obvious disparity between the images that were circulated publicly, and those that were circulated privately. The second will be to begin exploring the manner in which portrait photography was also used a tool for documenting and classifying patients within provincial institutions.

  • Sabujkoli Bandopadhyay
  • Sabu Bandopadhyay Photo

    3rd Year Doctoral Student, Comparative Literature

    Immigration and Eugenics in Western Canada

    My project tries to present an overview of the eugenic tendencies that were deployed in the immigration policies of the USA and Canada in the first half of the twentieth century. It is presented as a high school social science module. I was instructed to develop a project with similar topic and idea from last year. While developing the existing project, I added the historical phases of eugenic movement, the influence of the progressive era economists in creating a restricted and exclusive immigration policy and the origin and evolution of “race suicide theory” which established the Anglo-Saxons to be the supreme human race.

  • Viktoriya Yakovleava
  • “Adult Children” or “Childish Adults” – Children with Disabilities in Childhood Studies

    Drawing on Althusser’s and Foucault’s interpretation of power and ideology, my paper looks at image of childhood with disabilities existent in contemporary North American society in relation to the construct of ‘normative’ childhood and the society. I argue that understanding of disability as a ‘transmitting disease’ instead of the kind of personhood turns into fear and anxiety, protected by such notorious practices as institutionalization, sexual sterilization or a residential school program.

  • Anne Pasek
  • Anne Pasek Photo

    4th year History of Art, Design and Visual Culture major

    The Collective Memory Project

    I organized an exhibition of archival and contemporary visual culture that explores the history and legacy of eugenic thought. Archival materials were displayed in tandem with work by contemporary and emerging artists addressing multifaceted aspects of eugenic thinking. This dialog across communities and personal histories was displayed publicly at the Faculty of Extension in Enterprise Square from Oct. 23- Nov. 23, bringing a varied audience together in an act of collective memory. This exhibition was supplemented in the months leading up to the opening with several discussion groups and open studio times made available to the public. These opportunities provided a space for debate and discussion, providing the resources to bring forgotten histories and diverse perspectives to light.

    Edmonton 2010 Interns

  • Ameer Farooq
  • 3rd-year Biological Sciences major

    The Scientific Basis for Eugenics in Alberta (1928-1972)

    My project initially, as I envisioned it, was an attempt to understand some of the reasoning behind the sexual sterilization movement. I was looking to understand how eugenicists justified the movement to themselves. What was the scientific basis for their claims? One of the singular characteristics of the eugenics movement is that it involved using science to control the biological characteristics of populations. Exploring this complex interplay between science and society is one of the reasons that this internship appealed so much to me. I have always been interested in trying to understand how science and society interact. In his book, In the Name of Eugenics, Daniel Kevles casts eugenics as quasi-religious, with chapter headings like, "Francis Galton, Founder of the Faith" and "The Gospel Becomes Popular". To me, it seems that in many ways this is just reflective of a greater trend to rely on Science as the ultimate arbitrator. Eugenics is a clear example of how difficult it is to really separate science from social movements within society, which is why relying on science to solve societal problems seems to me to be problematic.

  • Samantha Balzer
  • Women's Studies major

    Eugenics and the Women's Suffrage Movement in Western Canada

    I spent the final portion of the summer attempting to construct a timeline of important dates relating to birth control in Western Canada. Having developed a pretty solid understanding of the birth control movement overall, I found this to be an interesting activity. Most of the information I found focused on birth control in British Columbia. While I knew many important dates relating to eugenics in Alberta, I hadn't heard much about sterilization in our most western province. I'm not sure if it was a flaw in my project, or the project overall, but it seems we have talked most about the Alberta Sexual Sterilization Act, neglecting the rest of the west. After figuring out some important information about BC's own Sexual Sterilization Act, which did have a much lower impact than that in Alberta, I did some research on the birth control movement.

  • Sally Scott
  • 3rd-year Sociology major

    The Sociology of Mental Illness and its Relation to Eugenics in Western Canada

    With my project, I needed first to come up with a working definition of compassion. What is compassion, and how was compassion defined in terms of mental health care/mental hygiene at the turn of the century (especially regarding new "compassionate care" models of mental institutions. Based on this working definition of compassion, paired with compassionate care models and the ideas behind the formation of mental institutions, I wanted to see if the outcome was the same, or at all related to, stated intentions. To do this, I used home healthcare manuals (especially the mental health/mental hygiene sections in them) published around the turn of the century to gain a better understanding of attitudes toward mental illness at this time.

  • Megan Farnel
  • English major

    Eugenics and Alternative Sexualities in Western Canada: Past and Present

    I spent my summer examining the relationship between eugenics and alternative sexualities. Ultimately I feel that I opened up more questions than I was able to answer. However, as these are questions that I plan to engage with as I continue my education, I believe the project and the overall experience were both extremely valuable to me. My original aim was to use the project to explore the historical context of Alberta's eugenics program as it related to sexuality, as well as contemporary debates surrounding sexuality and eugenic ideologies.

  • Graham Mah
  • 3rd-year General Sciences major and Philosophy minor

    Educational Program Creation

    The original aim of the project was to create useful and efficient workshops/seminars that provided an introduction to the history of eugenics with a focus on Alberta and an investigation of the underlying philosophical and sociological implications appropriate for high school level social studies and biology classes. The goal was to address the lack of curricular material devoted to eugenics as an idea and as part of our history and improve overall public understanding and awareness of the issue. High school students were the target audience because of the ability to reach a wide audience with a few fairly specific packages.

  • Bradley Lafortune
  • English major

    Propaganda and Eugenics in Alberta

    My original plan was to explore the ways in which the government of Alberta and other nodes of institutional power employed certain educational techniques in order to present to the general public the need for an official eugenics program in Alberta. Although this general idea was altered and reoriented as I continued my research throughout the summer, I did remain within the general area of educative and propagandistic campaigns. This meant for my research that I did a lot of "historical" reading, trying to find specific instances wherein those in powerful positions in society used their standing and expertise to influence many other individuals less informed or less politically inclined to endorse eugenics programs.

  • Jenney Choi
  • Science Technology and Society major

    Creating a Mind Map for Eugenics in Western Canada

    My project is the creation of a mind map that would be used as a resource and tool, by current and future team members, contributors, researchers, and the public. This mind map is a diagram used to represent the words, ideas, and concepts linked to and arranged around central key words or ideas related to the history of eugenics in Western Canada. The appeal of a mind map is its ability to effectively organize large amounts of information dynamically, so that it can continually be modified and adapted to fit the needs of the project.

  • Frances Chiu
  • 3rd-year Philosophy major

    Eugenics, Disability, and Human Rights: Past and Present

    This summer, I have learned that eugenics is a dynamic and ongoing topic with relevance to both historical and current biomedical issues. I have delved into the philosophical debate pertinent to these issues and as a result, my personal assumptions about human rights, human dignity, and morality have been challenged and rethought. I have opened my eyes to the importance and relevance of ethics today by critically examining the applied ethics of a modern controversial philosopher and his critics.

  • Jacalyn Ambler
  • Political Science major

    A Resource Package on Eugenics in Western Canada & In History and Today

    When we started the project, the possibilities and directions available for us to go with the package seemed overwhelming, but through planning and trial and error we were able to put together a format that is accessible and widely usable for students in both traditional and alternative school programs, as well as adaptable to other environments. This model incorporated a variety of tools that could be used on their own or in conjunction with one another, in a wide variety of environments, while still being small enough that the two of us could put together several modules in a relatively limited period of time.

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Research

The research for the Eugenics Archives is split into 6 teams (see team members).

Traditional Archives +

Traditional academic research using paperbased archives on the history of eugenics, and improving the quality and access to such material.

Surviving a Eugenics Past

Recording individual narratives and promoting community dialogue on eugenics, inclusion, & social policies affecting people with disabilities

Post-Eugenic Futures

Exploring issues at the interface of disability, technology, reproduction, and human enhancement.

Technical Team

Constructing a digital platform for research and public outreach, and facilitating project management.

Eugenics Frames

Providing resources for reflection on what eugenics is, past and present, and on the contextual location of eugenics in Western Canada in both Canada and the rest of the world.

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Events

Upcoming:

  • Alberta Eugenics Awareness Week (AEAW) 2013 runs Wednesday October 16 through Tuesday October 22, 2013. ALl events are open to the public and FREE! The research team meeting will be held on Saturday October 19th. On Monday October 21st we will premier the videos we have been working on at the Metro Cinema on 109 street in Edmonton. Tuesday October 22nd we are holding an evening of performances featuring CRIPSiE *(formerly iDance) and Leilani Muir will read from her autobiography. View the full calendar of events here (PDF) or here (WORD).

Past:

  • April 7 - 11, 2013 Guest Scholar Rob Sparrow presented at the University of Alberta. Professor Sparrow's web page can be found here:
  • May, 2013. The Living Archives had its semi-annual team-meeting in May, 2013.

    October, 2012. The Living Archives hosted another Alberta Eugenics Awareness Week. For full details, please refer to the calendar of events: PDF or Microsoft Word

    Living Archives Team Meeting May 4th 10:00 am - 2:00 pm. This meeting is open to anyone interested. You can join in via video-conferencing, skype or phone in. Contact Moyra (moyra@ualberta.ca) for information.

    March 22-25, 2012. Team members: Rob Wilson, Moyra Lang, Nicola Fairbrother, Leilani Muir, Kathryn Harvey and Anne Pasek (2011 student intern) will presented at a panel discussion at the Montreal Life Stories (MLS) Conference "Beyond Testimony and Trauma: Oral History in the Aftermath of Mass Violence". The panel presentation was titled "Survivorship for the Subhuman:Testimony, Narrative,and Memory in the Context of Canadian Eugenics". Details on the conference can be found here:

    October 15-23, 2011. The Living Archives project hosted Alberta Eugenics Awareness Week. For details of all nine events download the pdf or the MS Word file.

    October 23-November 21, 2011. The Collective Memory Project: Responses to Eugenics in Alberta. For pictures of the event, click here.

    May 5-7, 2011. Living Archives in Western Canada, Public Conference, Calgary, Alberta.

    October 22-23, 2010. Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada, Inaugural Public Conference.

    March 11-12, 2010. Team members Frank Stahnisch and Gregor Wolbring, and undergraduate students Natalie Ball and Sheila Gibbons, presented on project-related themes at the History of Medicine Days at the University of Calgary. More information on the event can be foundhere.

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Contact

As a community-university initiative, we welcome your involvement in this 5-year project: as someone with a story to tell, with ideas about public outreach, or with partnership or event suggestions. Please contact the project coordinator, Moyra Lang, or the project director, Rob Wilson, or any other member of the team, as appropriate. Confidential inquiries are welcome.

Moyra Lang
Project Coordinator
Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada
Department of Philosophy
3-65 Assiniboia Hall
University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB
T6G 2E7
780-248-1211
Fax: 780-492-9160
email: moyra@ualberta.ca