Sterilizing the “Feeble-minded”: Eugenics in Alberta, Canada, 1929–1972


  • Jana Grekul,

  • Arvey Krahn,

  • Dave Odynak


Abstract Between 1929 and 1972, the Alberta Eugenics Board recommended that 4739 residents of the province be sterilized. However, only 60% of these individuals, 2834 in total, were ultimately sterilized since the legislation under which the Eugenics Board operated required patient consent to be obtained unless the individual recommended for sterilization was diagnosed as “mentally defective.” Women, teenagers and young adults, and Aboriginals were particularly targeted by the Alberta Eugenics Board. The Board pursued its sterilization mandate extremely aggressively and, because of a unique set of social, political and economic circumstances in the province, continued to operate long after other political jurisdictions in North America had set aside their involuntary sterilization programs.