Leilani’s Story

Leilani O'MalleyLeilani Marietta (O’Malley) Muir was born in Calgary, Alberta, on July 15, 1944. She survived an exceptionally abusive childhood before being abandoned by her mother at the Provincial Training School for Mental Defectives (PTS) in Red Deer, Alberta at the age of ten. Muir spent the rest of her childhood living inside this controversial institution where she was wrongfully termed a ‘moron.’ As part of a program to weed out ‘feeblemindedness’ in society, admission to the PTS meant mandatory sterilization.

At the age of twenty, Muir was removed from the PTS by her mother, and finally set out on a journey to lead a normal life on her own a year later. As a married woman, she was devastated to discover she’d been sterilized while at the PTS. At the time, she was told only her appendix was being removed. But the doctors at the PTS clinic took away her right to bear children. This discovery led to a very dark time in her life. But after finding a medical professional in 1988 who finally listened to her, there was no stopping Muir. She decided at that point to no longer be a victim, and became the first eugenics survivor to file and win a lawsuit for wrongful sterilization against the government. The judgement from her historic trial is available on-line: Muir v. The Queen in right of Alberta can be downloaded here.

Courageous and determined, Leilani O’Malley Muir has had an amazing life and is ready to share it with others. In so doing, she hopes to protect vulnerable children and youth, encourage other abused people to speak out, and shed new light on Canada’s shameful eugenics program. In addition to becoming a social justice spokesperson (including appearing in The Vagina Monologues), she ran as a New Democratic Party candidate for a seat in the Alberta legislature. As recently as November 2011, Ms. O’Malley was featured on CBC The Current’s Game Changer series—her story is just as still moving and relevant today.

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