Some might consider eugenics an invasive practice belonging to the evil politics of the dictatorships in the first half of the twentieth century. However, forced sterilization was not banned in Canada until 1972. 

The Nazis enacted eugenics by introducing the Law for the Prevention of Hereditary Diseases in Nuremberg in 1935. A disturbing 12 minute video, Das Erbe, was often presented before main features at German cinemas promoting forced sterilization. Other countries, including Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Japan and more, including the USA, introduced similar laws, as far back as 1907. The people targeted were diagnosed with conditions like epilepsy, bipolar, schizophrenia and some forms of deafness. Addiction to alcohol was also included under the Nazi laws. The poster tries to show that without sterilization of undesirable elements in the Aryan race, the strong and healthy would soon fall into the minority.

In the 21st century we take a less political or institutionalized approach to eugenics. Our contemporary society offers “genetic counselling” or “family planning” and gives the individual or couple an educated choice. 

In Tainted Amber, I explore the consequences of losing that freedom to choose whether or not to have children. What is a perfect human anyway? Is perfection even a worthwhile goal? As Leonard Cohen so poetically chanted, “There is a crack in everything . . . that’s how the light gets in.” We don’t want any government to impose discriminatory laws about what makes a perfect citizen.  Canada is now dealing with the consequences of its own disturbing attempts to create perfect Canadians through residential schools.

Hitler had it all wrong when he tried to create a perfect race. It’s our imperfections that define our humanity and make us perfect.  A paradox to ponder. 

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