It’s a bit of a blur to Sylvia Tuckanow, but she remembers being forced into getting her tubes tied at Royal University Hospital in 2001.
After she had given birth to her sixth child, a son, Tuckanow remembers being moved to a wheelchair and placed outside a surgery room.
“I was thinking, ‘what is going on?'” she said. “Then it clicked in my head.”
She said she tried to wheel herself away from the room, back to the maternity ward where she had given birth. But a nurse or doctor caught up, and wheeled her into surgery.
“I just said ‘I don’t want to do this’ and they just didn’t hear me,” she said.
She was given an epidural through tears and screams.
“‘No, stop’ I was saying, but they weren’t listening,” she said.
Tuckanow said she doesn’t remember signing any paperwork to approve getting tubal ligation, a sterilization process that prevents further pregnancies.
She said it was a consideration at one point in her pregnancy, but her husband at the time opposed the procedure so she decided not to get it done.
“I didn’t want to do it.”
Tuckanow, now 45, isn’t the only woman who was pressured into the operation in the Saskatoon Health Region.
Officials say they know of at least four indigenous women who were forced into the procedure.
Stories first surfaced in the fall of 2015, when Tuckanow was inspired to come forward.
“It was kind of shocking to think other women went through the same thing I did,” she said. “I thought, I’ll tell my story to help them.”
The SHR changed their policy at that time, requiring mothers to have documentation of a conversation with their physician prior to arriving at the hospital for delivery. A tubal ligation can’t be conducted without it.
The region has apologized, and have ordered an external investigation into the practice.
“We are so sorry for the experience these women have had while in our care,” said Jackie Mann, vice president of integrated health services.
SHR isn’t certain how far back the forced ligations go, or how many women were affected.
But they’re encouraging more women to come forward.
Tuckanow says she’s glad the issue is in the open now, and she’s able to tell her family what happened.
She said she felt alone before 2015.
“They didn’t even know I went through this,” she said of her family.
–With files from Ashley Wills and Chris Vandenbreekel