Alberta Gave Prize to Essay That Says Women Should Stick to Birthing Kids

One of the judges was just appointed the associate minister of the status of women.
Anya Zoledziowski
Toronto, CA
The award-winning essay reads like a diatribe by a villain in "The Handmaid’s Tale".
The award-winning essay reads like a diatribe by a villain in "The Handmaid’s Tale". Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

The government of Alberta has awarded $200 to an essay that says women should stop pursuing male-dominated careers and instead birth more babies to avoid relying on immigration and prevent “cultural suicide.”

“While it is sadly popular nowadays to think that the world would be better off without humans, or that Albertan children are unnecessary as we can import foreigners to replace ourselves, this is a sickly mentality that amounts to a drive for cultural suicide,” wrote the essayist, whose name was published as S. Silver. 

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The essay, which reads like a diatribe by a villain in The Handmaid’s Tale or a Third Reich policy brief, somehow won third prize in the Alberta government’s “Her Vision Inspires” contest—and a $200 gift card to the province’s Legislature merch shop. The piece shares similar arguments with the “great replacement theory”—a racist conspiracy that peddles the idea that immigrants, primarily those who aren’t white, are replacing white people in North America—and was taken down from the government’s website following complaints.  

The contest encouraged women between the ages of 17 and 25 to submit essays describing their visions for Alberta, including what policies or goals they’d pursue if they were elected officials. A panel of United Conservative Party (UCP) parliamentarians, most of whom remain unnamed, judged the submissions. The lead judge, UCP Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA)  Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk, was later appointed associate minister of status of women.

The first- and second-prize essays focused on making it easier for women to run for office and improving political engagement. But in the third-prize essay, the writer says, “Women are not exactly equal to men. This biological reality is also under attack by present-day delusion. To try to promote that women break into careers that men traditionally dominate is not only misguided, but it is harmful.”

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“Many women now realize in their late 30s that they actually want a child after having been taught that career was what mattered earlier in their lives, and they then regret not having done it earlier, when they were in their prime,” writes Silver. “Others couldn’t afford to have children when they were younger.”

The writer says that as an official, she’d implement financial rewards for families for their “reproductive service” and would award them with medals for bearing two or more children—a policy reminiscent of Hitler Germany, a regime that awarded women with medals of honor for birthing multiple children. 

“As a future parliamentarian, I would promote healthy appreciation for the value that young Albertan women have in their ability to carry our population forward into the future,” says the essay. 

Armstrong-Homeniuk apologized for awarding the essay third place. 

“I want to emphasize that I do not support rhetoric that in any way diminishes the importance and contributions of more than half of Alberta’s population,” Armstrong-Homeniuk said in a statement to VICE News. “It’s clear that the process failed, and I apologize for my role in that.” 

She did not say why the essay was chosen in the first place. 

Parliamentarians from the left-leaning New Democratic Party called out the essay. “This is an absolutely reprehensible claim. It is a nod to the racist replacement theory that drives white nationalist hate,” NDP MLA Rakhi Pancholi, children’s services critic, said. 

“This is so messed up,” MLA Janis Irwin tweeted.

Some Conservative MLAs also took to Twitter to condemn the piece, including women vying for the political party’s top spot, as current Alberta Premier Jason Kenney prepares to step away from his role. 

“I’m not sure how the 3rd essay elevates women?” said UCP parliamentarian Leela Aheer.

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