Surviving Eugenics is a sensitive tour de force -- the rare documentary that both movingly presents the human faces of a social movement’s victims and trenchantly conveys the flawed thinking and politics that produced such horrendous consequences. It reveals that Albertans in the interwar years were casually indifferent to the civil liberties and bodily rights of those who, so science told them, sapped the strength of their society and it reminds us that the legal protection of those liberties and rights is all the more imperative today amid the high powers of biotechnology.
Daniel J. Kevles, Stanley Woodward Professor of History, Yale University
Author of In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity
Surviving Eugenics is a compelling and powerful testament to the courage and tenacity of the survivors of eugenics policies and practices, and of their recent defense teams. It is also a testament to the persistent, unfortunate, but entirely resistable tendency of the rest of us to permit ethical and political issues to be turned into purely technical ones.
Sandra Harding, Distinguished Research Professor, UCLA
Author of Sciences From Below and Objectivity and Diversity: Another Logic of Scientific Research
Surviving Eugenics leaves us breathless – breathless from the sheer force of so much dignity, so much humanity. But that is not all. If you are a defender of just causes, a principled human being, a citizen of honour and stature, this film is for you. Be inspired by the women and men who rose from humiliation to speak the truth of an untold history. But be prepared as well for the hard punch – that it was decent, civic-minded people like us who presided over this dark and ugly era. Therein lies the timeless relevance of this film: to unsettle the confident posture of moral authority with which good people can do great harm.
Catherine Frazee, Professor Emerita, Ryerson University
Co-Curator, Out from Under: Disability, History And Things to Remember
This is a powerful, academically rigorous and, more importantly, vitally important historical document. Surviving Eugenics stands as a sad and disturbing reminder of a near forgotten chapter in Canada’s past – the enactment and cold execution of Alberta’s 1928 Sexual Sterilization Act. This compelling work will serve as both an invaluable research record, but also, I hope, a tool to teach future generations.
Timothy Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy
University of Alberta, and Trudeau Fellow
Remarkably few people are aware that involuntary sterilization procedures – tens of thousands of them – were conducted in North America under the auspices of a vigorous 20th-century eugenics movement. Surviving Eugenics is a crucial and compelling film that will help us dispel this historical amnesia, and forestall future eugenic temptations. I think you’ll find, as I did, that the voices, faces and moving stories of Canadians who fell under the control of the Alberta Eugenics Board as children or teenagers are in fact hard to forget.
Marcy Darnovsky, Executive Director
Center for Genetics and Society, Berkeley, California
In this unforgettable narrative, a remarkable group of people who survived institutionalization and forced sterilization convey with grace, clarity and power exactly what it meant to bear the brunt of eugenics, how they emerged to fight successfully for reparations, and why this still matters urgently in North America today. Essential viewing for students in many different subjects—but everyone should see this moving, healing, revelatory film.
Susan Schweik, Professor, University of California, Berkeley
author of The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public
Powerful, difficult, personal retelling of the eugenics era in Alberta directly from the people who survived its worst. A rare glimpse into a painful, largely unknown history whose underlying ideologies still haunt us today. Surviving Eugenics is essential viewing for all ages.
Director, FIXED: The Science / Fiction of Human Enhancement
In this powerful and immensely moving film, victims of the Canadian eugenics movement recount their experiences of institutional abuse and forced sterilization. Surviving Eugenics reminds us that human rights abuses committed in the name of science were not restricted to totalitarian regimes abroad, but were inflicted on defenseless children right here in our own back yard.
David Livingstone Smith, Professor, University of New England
Author of Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others
Surviving Eugenics tells a moving and powerful story about the misuse of science, human resilience, the nature of evil, and much else. It shocks us with the revelation that the most terrible acts were done by decent and well-meaning Canadians, and pushes us to worry how future generations are going to judge our own treatment of those whose lives we have power over. But it’s not a grim film. The story is told by the survivors of this inhumane treatment, and it is uplifting to witness their decency and courage and strength. This is a film that everyone should see.
Paul Bloom, Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology, Yale University
Author of Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil