From a young age Senator Yvonne Boyer knew that a future in healthcare was what awaited her, it was after all her family calling. Growing up, her family didn’t use the phrase “heath care providers,” but that is what many in Senator Boyer’s family were. They cared for one another, using medicines from the land. This was their heath care.
After years of witnessing injustices while working as a nurse in small towns throughout central Canada, Senator Boyer made the decision to go to law school, so she would be better equipped to help fight the injustices she had seen carried out in the health care setting time and time again. After years of working as a lawyer, researcher, and professor, she was asked to conduct an external review into sterilization practices in the Saskatoon Health Region. What this report found was shocking to many, but only confirmed what those who have worked in Indigenous health care had suspected: Indigenous women were being sterilized against their will at alarming rates, and the practice was still happening.
The report from this external review launched Senator Boyer down a new chapter of her career as a champion for ending the practice of forced sterilizations in Canada.
Today, she brings her over 30 years of experience in healthcare and the law to her legislative work to develop solutions for the racism crisis Canada’s healthcare system is facing. Sadly, despite progress being made, there are still Indigenous women being sterilized against their will in Canada.
What can we do to end this practice? How can we confront the realities of anti-Indigenous racism in healthcare? What role do researchers, doctors, lawyers have in this process?