Profile: The Living Archives Project: Canadian Disability and Eugenics


  • Colette Leung University of Alberta



ugenics, Disability, Western Canada, Disability Research, History of Eugenics, Living Archives, Vulnerable Populations


Between 1928 and 1972, a unique chapter in the history of eugenics developed in Western Canada, directly affecting a number of individuals believed to be “defective,” resulting in their sterilization and institutionalization under legislative law.  These individuals included many marginalized groups, but the vast majority of those targeted had developmental disabilities.  The history of eugenics in Western Canada, therefore, is an important legacy of disability studies.   The Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) project, Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada joins some 30 research scholars and sterilization survivors, and 12 community partners across Western Canada, in order to engage communities in developing accessible resources to investigate and create awareness surrounding the history of eugenics in Canada, including its social and political contexts.  These resources include interviews and narrative videos with individuals directly affected by eugenic practices, now mostly in their 60s and 70s.  The project also seeks to explore the relationship between this history and current practices, especially in biomedicine.  Examining this current project can help create precedent and resources for research in disability studies, with emphasis on inclusivity during research and the creation of accessible resources.  The Living Archives project is an example of Canadian perspective on a unique history, rarely studied, but integral to disability studies.

Author Biography

Colette Leung, University of Alberta

Colette Leung is a graduate student at the University of Alberta, working in the fields of Library and Information science as well as Humanities Computing.  Her research interests focus on how digital tools can be used to explore fields such as literature, identity, language, and history in new and innovative ways, as well as how these tools organize knowledge in methods meaningful for users.  She currently works as a Research Assistant on the Technical Team of the "Living Archives Project in Western Canada".

How to Cite

Leung, C. (2012). Profile: The Living Archives Project: Canadian Disability and Eugenics. Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, 1(1), 143–166.