Historians have long documented the disproportionate effect that policies on sterilisation have had on Canada’s indigenous women. In 1928, the province of Alberta enacted legislation aimed at sterilising those considered mentally challenged and other disadvantaged groups. An estimated 2,800 sterilisations were carried out – including on many Aboriginal people – before the act was repealed in 1972.
Indigenous women have been the backbone of this particular resistance movement, but also in general, of tiospaye, family units, in Lakota nations. And Indigenous women—as well as [being] traditionally the backbone of their families, they often are the ones to call out injustice when they see it immediately. We saw that at Standing Rock. LaDonna has a story in which she describes how there were bulldozers going over the sacred burial sites, and the men were just so in shock that they didn't know what to do. And LaDonna said, “Well push [the men] out of the way and tell the women to stop it.” And that's what happened. Women got arrested: doctors, mothers, sisters. They are a force to reckon with. And I think that that's why we were meant to carry this particular message to Europe.