Artefact Evaluation: Sterilization Timeline
Timing: 30 Minutes
Mode: In-class; Online
Download and use this Sterilization Timeline which tracks national and international events that determined Doreen Befus’ fate.
Context is important in appreciating historical events, ideas and practices. The history of sterilization and eugenics in Alberta,and the story of Doreen’s life, needs to be appreciated as part of a much larger national and international project, linked to mental health treatments and programs. This exercise provides learners with a wider viewpoint for understanding and appreciating this difficult history. Integrate key personal information about Doreen and relevant Canadian dates and details.
The story of Doreen Befus, sterilized as a teenager without her knowledge or consent, makes the potential extremes of unfettered medical power real for students. This artefact can be used by instructors who have a limited amount of time to devote to the topic of sterilization, or as the basis for a culminating learning activity on the subject. This activity can be completed online or in class.
Instructors using this as their only activity on the history of sterilization can assign some or all of the following sections to give context: Learning Lens, Sterilization as Law and Practice, Sterilization Timeline, and Doreen Befus’ Story. Instead of standard note-taking, have students “map” annotations onto the timeline, adding the thoughts and responses of Befus, other victims/activists’, law-makers and medical staff to dates and items listed on the timeline.
Instructors using this as a culminating learning activity can encourage students to add information that they have learned from reviewing documents and listening to audio clips. This can be done as an individual or group assignment and online or in-class. Instructors may also wish to assign specific decades of the Timeline or roles (i.e. victim/activist, law-maker, medical staff) to individual students or groups of students. Timing for this activity is based on it being used as a culminating learning activity.