- Physician advocacy essential for Canada's First Nations
- Natives died in droves as Ottawa ignored warnings: Tuberculosis took the lives of students at residential schools for at least 40 years
- THE HUMAN TOLL: Sexual abuse at heart of pain
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" The undersigned has the honour to report that there is urgent necessity for the appointment of a medical inspector to represent the Department of the Interior and Department of Indian Affairs. The undersigned believes that the qualifications for the position above mentioned are possessed in an eminent degree by Mr. Peter Henderson Bryce, M. D., at present and for a number of years past Secretary for the Provincial Board of Health of Ontario, and who has had large experience in connection with the public health of the province. "
(Signed) CLIFFORD SlFTON,Minister of the Interior and Superintendent General of Indian Affairs.
Briefly the recommendations urged,
"As it is necessary that these residential schools should be filled with a healthy class of pupils in order that the expenditure on Indian education may not be rendered entirely nugatory, it seems desirable that you should go over the same ground as Dr. Lafferty and check his inspection. "
These instructions were encouraging and the writer gladly undertook the work of examining with Dr. J. D. Lafferty the 243 children of 8 schools in Alberta, with children. the following results :
Prof. George Adami, Pathologist of McGill University, in reply to a letter of the Deputy Minister asking his opinion regarding the management and conduct of the Indian schools. Prof. Adami had with the writer [P H Bryce] examined the children in one of the largest schools and was fully informed as to the actual situation. He stated that it was only after the earnest solicitation of Mr. D. C. Scott that the whole matter of Dr. Bryce's report was prevented from becoming a matter of critical discussion at the annual meeting of the National Tuberculosis Association in 1910, of which he was then president,
end of page 5
and this was only due to Mr. Scott's distinct promise that the Department would take adequate action along the lines of the report.
"It was a revelation to me to find tuberculosis prevailing to such an extent amongst these children, and as many of them were only suffering from the early incipient form of the disease, though practically everyone was affected, when under care it may be arrested, I was greatly impressed with the responsibility of the government in dealing with these children .... I can assure you my only motive is a great sympathy for these children, who are the wards of the government and cannot protect themselves from the ravages of this disease. "
" It is now over 9 months since these occurrences and I have not received a single communication with reference to carrying out the Suggestions of our report. Am I wrong in assuming that the vanity of Mr. D. C. Scott, growing cut of his success at manipulating the mental activities of Mr. Pedley, has led him to the fatal deception of supposing that his cleverness will be equal to that of Prospero in calming anystorm that may blow up from a Tuberculosis Association or any where else, since he knows that should he fail he has through memoranda on file placed the responsibility on Mr. Pedley and yourself. In this particular matter, he is counting upon the ignorance and indifference of the public to the fate of the Indians ; but with the awakening of the health conscience of the people, .we are now seeing on every hand, I feel certain that serious trouble will come out of departmental inertia, and I am not personally disposed to have any blame fall upon me. "
end of page 6
bands on whose health the total expenditure was but little more than $2 per capita, while the death rate in many of the bands was as high as forty per thousand. The reply acknowledging receipt of this memorandum contained the following :
Dr Roche is Urge to Act
" There is certainly something in your suggestion that should meet with every consideration, and some time when I can find an opportunity and it is convenient for you, I shall be pleased to discuss this matter with you."
end of 7[To] P. H. Bryce, M. D. Ottawa,Medical Inspector, June 17, 1914.Immigration Branch.
In reply to your letter of the first instant, asking that the files of the Department, containing our medical officers' reports be placed at your disposal, so that you may peruse them to enable you to furnish a report for publication, I desire to point out, that by the organization of this Department, under the Civil Service Act of 1908 you were not included therein and since that time your whole salary has been a charge against the Department of the Interior. It is true that since then we have availed ourselves of your services on a few occassions; but during the past year, so far as I am aware, you have not been called upon to do any duty for the Department. I may say also that Dr. Grain of Winnipeg, has lately been appointed to oversee the Western schools and reserves and his time is fully occupied in the work. Under these circumstances, I do not think that you should be asked to furnish a report on the medical work in connection with Indians during the fiscal year.
I must thank you cordially for the offer to again prepare a report for publication. Yours sincerely,
DUNCAN C. SCOTT,D. S. G. I. A.
The transparent hypocrisy contained in this remarkable communication sent, not by the Minister Dr. W. A. Roche, but by his deputy, will be seen in the fact that from 1908, five annual reports
Dr Roche's Culcable Apathy
IV. As the war broke out in 1914 and immigration was largely suspended, an unexpected opportunity occurred through Dr. Roche's the greater time at his disposal for the writer's special culcable apathy- knowledge and experience to be utilized in improving the health of the Indians ; but in no single instance, thereafter, were the services of the writer [Bryce] utilised by this medical Minister, who in 1917 was transferred to preside over the Civil Service Commission, and who must be held responsible for the neglect of what proved to be a very serious situation. In 1917, the writer prepared, at the request of the Conservation Commission, a pamphlet on "The Conservation of the Man Power of Canada," which dealt with the broad problems of health which so vitally affect the man power of a nation. The large demand for this pamphlet led to the preparation of a similar study on " The Conservation of the Man Power of the Indian Population of Canada, " which had already supplied over 2000 volunteer soldiers for the Empire. For obvious reasons this memorandum was not published, but was
Value of Manpower of Indians
This memorandum began by pointing out that in 1916 4,862,303 acres were included in the Indian reserves and that 73,716 acres were then under cultivation ; that while the total per capita income for farm crops in that year in all Canada was $110 that from the Indian reserves was $69, while it was only $40 for Nova Scotia. It is thus obvious that from the lowest standard of wealth producers the Indian population of Canada was already a matter of much importance to the State. From the statistics given in the " Man Power " pamphlet it was made plain that instead of the normal increase in the Indian population being 1.5 per cent, per annum as given for the white population, there had been between 1904 and 1917 an actual decrease in the Indian population in the age period over twenty years of 1,639 persons whereas a normal increase would have added 20,000 population in the 13 years. The comparisons showed that the loss was almost wholly due to a high death rate since, though incomplete, the Indian birth rate was 27 per thousand or higher than the average for the whole white population.
" As the Indian people are an unusually strong native race, their children at birth are large and sturdy, and under good sanitary conditions have a low mortality.
Thus of the 134 children born in the File Hills Farm Colony in 17 years only[?] 34 died, while of 15 births in 1916 only 1 died, giving the unusually low rate of 77 per thousand within the year. "
end of page 9Dear Dr. Bryce, Ottawa, May 7, 1918.
I have your letter of the third instant asking for certain vital statistics. I am unable to give you the figures you ask as we are not receiving any vital statistics now, and last year we obtained only the total number of births and deaths from each Agency. These were not printed and are not therefore available for distribution. The causes of deaths have never been noted in our reports and we have no information.
Your obedient servant,(Signed) J. D. McLean,Asst. Deputy and Secretary.
Thus after more than a hundred years of an organized Department of Indian Affairs in Canada, though the writer [Bryce] had at once begun, in 1904, on his appointment, the regular collection of statistics of diseases and deaths from the several Indian bands, he was officially informed that, in a Department with 287 paid medical officers, due to the direct reactionary influence of the former Accountant and present Deputy Minister, no means exists, such as is looked upon as elementary in any Health Department today, by which the public or the Indians themselves can learn anything definite as to the actual vital conditions amongst these wards of the nation.
The Famous File Hills colony
In order however to show how an Indian population may increase, the writer[Bryce] obtained from Mr. W. M. Graham, (at that time Superintendent of the File Hills colony from 1901 to 1917), the complete record for this period. In all there were 53 colonists from the neighbouring Indian schools, starting with five in 1901, who had taken up homesteads in the colony. Most of them married although 15 either left or had died previous to marriage. In June 1917 there were resident 38 men, 26 women and 106 children, or 170 colonists in all. Thus we have the picture of a young Indian population of 49 males who remained in the colony, of whom 10 died of tuberculosis after an average sickness there of 2.7 years and of 29 females of whom 3 died and to whom had been born in all 134 chiidren.
Naturally it is asked ; Why this decrease should have taken place ? In 1906 the report of the Chief Medical Officer shows that statistics collected from 99 local medical officers having the care of a population of 70,000 gave a total of 3,169 cases of tuberculosis or 1 case for every seven in a total of 23,109 diseases reported, and the death rates in several large bands were 81.8, 82.6, and in a third 86.4 per thousand; while the ordinary death rate for 115,000 in the city of Hamilton was 10.6 in 1921. What these figures disclose has been made more plain year by year, namely that tuberculosis, contracted in infancy, creates diseases of the brain, joints, bones, and to a less degree of the lungs and also that if not fatal till adolescence it then usually progresses rapidly to a fatal termination in consumption of the lungs.
The memorandum prepared by the writer in 1918 further showed that the city of Hamilton with a population greater than the total Indian population had reduced the death rate from tuberculosis in the same period, from 1904 to 1917, by nearly 75 per cent, having in 1916 actually only 68 deaths. The memorandum further states, " If a similar method had been introduced amongst the bands on the health-giving uplands of Alberta, much might have been done to prevent such a splendid race of warriors as the Blackfeet from decreasing from 842 in 1904 to 726 in 1916, or, allowing for natural increase, an actual loss of 40 per cent, since they should have numbered at least 1,011."
Occult Influences again Rob the Indians of a Chance
But something then happened : What special occult influences came into action may be imagined, when the Second Reading of the Bill took place with this clause regarding the Indian Medical Service omitted. It has been noted that from 1913 up to the time when Dr. W. A. Roche was eliminated from the government in 1917 to make room for a more hardy and subtle representative of Unionism the activities of the Chief Medical Inspector of the Indian Department, had, in practice, ceased ; yet now he was to see as the outcome of all this health legislation for which he had been struggling for years, the failure of one of his special health dreams, which he has hoped to see realized.
If the writer [Bryce] had been much disturbed by the incapacity or inertia of a medical Minister in the matter of the Indian health situation, he now saw that it was hopeless to expect any improvement in it when the new Minister of Health, who had posed as the Bayard of Social Up-lift, the Protagonist of Prohibition, the Champion of Oppressed Labour, the Sir Galahad of Women's rights, and the preux Qhevalier of Canadian Nationalism, could, with all the accumulated facts and statistics before him, condemn to further indefinite suffering and neglect these Wards of the Canadian people, whom one Government after another had made treaties with and whom deputies and officials had sworn to assist and protect.
Mr. D. D. McKenzie, " I understand that frightful ravages are being made amongst them (Indians) by tuberculosis and the conditions of life are certainly not such as to preserve them from the ravages of that dread disease. I should be pleased to know at the earliest possible moment if that branch of the Department was going to be transferred to the Department of Health. "
Mr. Meighen, " The Health Department has no power to take over the matter of the health of the Indians. That is not included in the Act establishing the department. It was purposely left out of the Act. I did not then think and do not think yet that it would be practicable for the Health Department to do that work, because they would require to duplicate the organization away in the remote regions, where Indian reserves are, and there would be established a sort of divided control and authority over the Indians. "
Mr. Beland, " Is tuberculosis increasing or decreasing amongst the Indians? "
Mr. Meighen, " I am afraid I cannot give a very encouraging answer to the question. We are not convinced that it is increasing, but it is not decreasing.
Red Tape Condemns the Indians because of a Pitiable Inertia
In this reply of the Minister we see fully illustrated the dominating influence, stimulated by the reactionary Deputy Minister, which prevents even the simplest effective efforts to deal with the health problem of the Indians along modern scientific lines. To say that confusion would arise is the equiavalent of saying that co-operation between persons toward a desired social end is impracticable; whereas co-operation between Provincial and Federal Health Departments is the basis upon which real progress is being made, while further a world peace is being made possible in a league of once discordant nations. The Premier has frankly said he can give no encouraging answer to Dr. Beland's question, while at the same moment he condemns the Indians to their fate by a pitiable confession of utter official helplessness and lack of initiative, based upon a cynical " non possumus." Thus we find a sum of only $10,000 has been annually placed in the estimates to control tuberculosis amongst 105,000 Indians scattered over Canada in over 300 bands, while the City of Ottawa, with about the same population and having three general hospitals spent thereon $342,860.54 in 1919 of which $33,364.70 is devoted to tuberculous patients alone. The many difficulties of our
end of page 13
I quite appreciate the views of your brother in reference to his situation here, and personally would be only too glad to do anything I can to help out. When the Public Health Department was created, your brother certainly had claims to the appointment as Deputy Minister.Owing to his advanced age however, Council finally concluded that a younger man should receive the appointment. The government has on several occasions considered the question of placing your brother in some other branch of the Service, and I have no doubt that this will be arranged in some way or other shortly. He is now an official of the Public Health Department. He could of course remain there but this apparently is not agreeable to him. As a consequence some other arrangement, if possible must be made.Signed, J. A. Calder.
" Section 2 (3). When it is decided to retire anyone under the provisions of this Act, notice in writing giving the reasons for such retirement shall be sent to such person, and he shall have the right to appeal to the Civil Service Commission, and the Commission, after giving such person an opportunity to be heard, shall make full report to the Governor in Council and the decision of the Council thereon shall be final. "
Mr. Fielding : But cases have been brought to my attention of men in advanced years some may think them old, I do not being notified of their retirement, although they are blessed with good health and strength, both mental and physical, and are well able to discharge their duties. How is such a man dealt with ?
Mr. Calder : No man will be notified unless a proper official has advised that his condition of life is such that in the public interest he should be retired
Mr. Calder : That in the main has been the practice in the past and that is what the law contemplated last year. The question of age alone was not taken into consideration.But it was hardly to be supposed that Dr. W. A. Roche, now Chairman of the Civil Service Commission, who during the years 1913-17 referred to had failed to utilise my services when he was Superintendent of Indian Affairs would now consider my services as necessary in that Department. So my protest was of no avail ; my elimination from the Service had been decreed and I received
Ottawa, 14th Feb., 1721.
The Committee have had before them a report, dated Feb. 1st, 1921, from the acting Secretary of State, from the Civil Service Commission :In accordance with the provisions of Cap. 67, 10-11 George V. " An Act to provide for the Retirement of Certain Members of the Public Service " the Civil Service has to report that Dr. P. H. Bryce of the Department of Health at Ottawa was recommended by the Deputy Minister of Health for retirement ; that under Section 2 (3) of the said Act he was given a personal hearing, which has resulted in the Civil Service Commission now recommending that his appeal be not allowed, but that his retirement be made effective from the 1st of March, 1921. Dr. Bryce was born on August 17th, 1853, and is consequently sixty-seven years of age. He was appointed temporarily to the Service on Feb. 1st, 1904, and was made permanent on September 1st, 1908, and therefore will have been in the Service seventeen years and one month on the 1st March, 1921, the date upon which his retirement is proposed to be effecive."
by Peter Warren MB B Chir
CMAJ September 23, 2008 vol. 179 no. 7 728
The Government of Canada recently apologized to our First Nations' people for its residential school policy, which effectively suppressed the linguistic, cultural and spiritual practices of their pupils, with the ultimate aim of assimilation. Federal underfunding coupled with harsh discipline, exacerbated by the presence of abusive staff in some schools, also served to demoralize students and compromise their resistance to disease.
The apology has been a long time coming. A century ago, Dr. P.H. [Peter Henderson] Bryce, then-chief medical officer for Canada's departments of the interior and Indian affairs (1904–1921), revealed that Aboriginal children were being decimated in his Report on the Indian Schools of Manitoba and the North West Territories. 1 A few years later he made an embittered and passionate plea for restitution. 2
Bryce entered public health in the decades when the science of microbiology began providing a powerful tool for monitoring environmentally caused diseases. He kept statistics on health and disease as an essential means for identifying problems and their roots, although in the residential schools he had considerable trouble obtaining accurate information. However, what he did find was that, of the 1537 pupils who attended Canada's 15 residential schools between 1883 and 1907, 7% were in poor health and 24% died in, or shortly after leaving, the schools. The most common recorded cause of death was tuberculosis, which had emerged in all Aboriginal populations at that time; the death rate due to tuberculosis was 20 times higher in Canada's First Nation's people than among European colonists.
The government, through the minister responsible [Minister of the Interior], Clifford Sifton, and his deputy, Duncan Campbell Scott, eventually acknowledged the appalling state of Indian health, but nonetheless pursued a policy of active neglect and parsimony (extreme unwillingness to spend money or use resources). It may be that they thought that the Aboriginals would “go away” as forecast by Bryce's statistics, which indicated that between 1904 to 1913 the Aboriginal population decreased by nearly 2000, whereas it should have naturally increased by 20 000.
Federal responsibility for the health of Aboriginals was not acknowledged until Treaty Number Six, and then, some argue, only by the provision of a medicine chest. The appointment of Bryce did, in part, acknowledge Ottawa's duty, but his findings and crusade were not welcomed.
Because the federal government had delegated its responsibilities for Indian education to the churches, it is not surprising that in the aftermath of Bryce's report, the culpability for the conditions in the schools was shuttled back and forth between church and state. And both parties also blamed the victims, whose weak heredity or habits at home were the real cause of their misfortune. Nothing was done even when leading tuberculosis experts, including David Stewart and George Ferguson, warned that the epidemic of tuberculosis in the First Nations population threatened the health of non-Aboriginal populations. Whether these physicians expressed such a fear on behalf of the latter, or were attempting to blackmail government to do something for the former, is open to question. Physicians may well have used this political ploy to get help for the disadvantaged.
We could use a Bryce today. As noted by epidemiologist Geoffrey Rose, “The primary determinants of disease are mainly economic and social, and therefore its remedies must also be economic and social. Medicine and politics cannot and should not be kept apart.” 3
The specific problems of 100 years ago have changed, but the underlying determinants have not. When Save the Children, an esteeemed nongovernmental organization, describes Canada's North as “the slowest evolved disaster that I've ever worked in,” 4 something must be done. Physicians have a distinct role, for as Virchow, a model for mixing science and political service, said, “The physicians are the natural attorneys of the poor and the social problems should largely be solved by them.” 5
- Ackerknecht EH. Rudolf Virchow: doctor, statesman, anthropologist. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Press; 1953
Natives died in droves as Ottawa ignored warnings:
Tuberculosis took the lives of students at residential schools for at least 40 years
Globe and Mail investigation
BILL CURRY AND KAREN HOWLETT
From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
April 24, 2007
OTTAWA — As many as half of the aboriginal children who attended the early years of residential schools died of tuberculosis, despite repeated warnings to the federal government that overcrowding, poor sanitation and a lack of medical care were creating a toxic breeding ground for the rapid spread of the disease, documents show.
A Globe and Mail examination of documents in the National Archives reveals that children continued to die from tuberculosis at alarming rates for at least four decades after a senior official at the Department of Indian Affairs initially warned in 1907 that schools were making no effort to separate healthy children from those sick with the highly contagious disease.
Peter Bryce, the department's chief medical officer, visited 15 Western Canadian residential schools and found at least 24 per cent of students had died from tuberculosis over a 14-year period. The report suggested the numbers could be higher, noting that in one school alone, the death toll reached 69 per cent.
With less than four months to go before Ottawa officially settles out of court with most former students, a group calling itself the Friends and Relatives of the Disappeared Residential School Children is urging the government to acknowledge this period in the tragic residential-schools saga – and not just the better-known cases of physical and sexual abuse.
Last week, Liberal MP Gary Merasty wrote to Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice asking the government to look into the concerns. Mr. Prentice's spokesman, Bill Rogers, told The Globe that departmental officials have been asked to meet with native groups.
Some of their stories, including tales of children buried in unmarked graves beside the schools, are told in a new documentary by Kevin Annett, a former United Church minister, titled Unrepentant: Kevin Annett and Canada's Genocide.
Mr. Annett, as well as some academics, argue that the government's handling, combined with Canada's official policy of removing children from their homes for 10 months each year to attend distant schools, does indeed fit the United Nations definition of genocide.
The UN definition, adopted after the Second World War, lists five possible acts that qualify as genocide, of which killing is only one. The fifth act is described as “ forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
But transcripts of debates in 1952 of the House of Commons external affairs committee, reviewed by The Globe, show public servants advised politicians not to enshrine a definition of genocide into law, despite Canada's promise internationally to do so.
In 2000, four years after the last residential school closed, the government finally adopted a limited definition of genocide, excluding the line about forcible transfer of children. But courts have rejected native claims of genocide against Ottawa and the churches because Canada had no law banning genocide while the schools were operating.
“It's another crime,” said Roland Chrisjohn, a professor of native studies at St. Thomas University who has written extensively on the subject. “Canada can't define genocide to suit its own purposes.”
Few argue that the policy was genocidal in the Nazi sense of deliberately killing people. Rather, the focus was on killing native culture in the name of assimilation, said John Milloy, a Trent University professor.
“The purpose of the [federal government's] policy is to eradicate Indians as a cultural group,” said Prof. Milloy, who has had more access to government files on the subject than any other researcher. “If genocide has to do with destroying a people's culture, this is genocidal, no doubt about it. But to call it genocidal is to misunderstand how the system works.”
Whatever the definition, there is no disputing the deadly swath tuberculosis cut through native schools.
Dr. Bryce followed up his 1907 report with a second one two years later, this time on the toll TB was taking in Alberta residential schools. He recommended that Ottawa take over responsibility of the schools from church control.
The Globe has uncovered letters in the archives showing that many others issued similar warnings. Just a few months after Dr. Bryce's 1909 report, the department's Indian agent for Duck Lake, Sask., wrote to his Ottawa colleagues: “The department should realize that under present circumstances about one-half of the children who are sent to the Duck Lake boarding school die before the age of 18, or very shortly afterward.”
Another document published in 1914 shows Dr. Bryce's findings were accepted by Duncan Campbell Scott, the most influential senior Indian Affairs official of the period. “It is quite within the mark to say that fifty per cent of the children who passed through these schools did not live to benefit from the education which they had received therein,” Mr. Scott wrote in an essay.
But one of the documents obtained by The Globe reveals Mr. Scott's department rejected the doctor's recommendations because the government did not want to upset the churches that ran the schools.
The residential schools were an extension of religious missionary work. They started receiving federal support in 1874 as part of Canada's campaign to assimilate aboriginals into Christian society by obliterating their language, religion and culture. Well over 100,000 native children passed through the schools, most of which were closed in the mid-1970s.
The tuberculosis problem was symptomatic of the deplorable living conditions for the thousands of children uprooted from their communities and placed in the care of strangers. Tuberculosis is one of the deadliest infectious diseases, entering the body through breathing and infecting the lungs. It can then spread to the central nervous system, bones and joints, according to the Canadian Lung Association.
In May, 1930, at the Shubenacadie Residential School in Nova Scotia, officials were coping with an outbreak of tuberculosis seven months after the facility opened. But it was the arrival several years later of James Paul, a new student with an advanced case of tuberculosis, that raised the ire of the school's visiting physician.
“Evidently somebody has mistaken our residential school for a TB sanatorium,” D. F. MacInnis says in a letter to Indian Affairs.
Later, Dr. MacInnis wrote to the school principal: “We are apparently getting all the advanced TB cases and syphilities in the three provinces shipped into our school and apparently there is no way left for us to keep them out. It is very unfair to the children who are clean and well.”
Although most students from this period are no longer alive, some who attended later recall sharing sleeping quarters with dying children.
“I've known some students that died there and I don't know how they died. All we know is we had their funeral service,” said Harry Lucas, 66, who attended Christie Indian Residential on Vancouver Island from 1948 to 1958.
“There were quite a few grave sites there that I always questioned. We were able to sleep next to a person that was dying. They didn't put them away in separate rooms. That was always kind of spooky for me.”
Ted Quewezance, the executive director of the National Residential School Survivors Society, attended Gordon Residential School and St. Philip Residential School in Saskatchewan from 1960 to 1969. He said he has spoken to thousands of former students across Canada.
“We'd see [funerals] monthly,” he said. “We were never able to ask what they were. It's no different right across the country. There's even some graves unmarked. Kids were buried at the school, but now we're talking about how do we bring our survivors home?”
The Friends and Relatives of the Disappeared Residential School Children claims thousands of children are buried in unmarked graves near the schools. Many of their stories are contained in the documentary by Mr. Annett, who says he was ousted from the United Church in 1995 after raising concerns about the church's residential-school history.
(The United Church rejects Mr. Annett's version of events, pointing to a three-week termination hearing in which several witnesses said he was a confrontational figure who was a poor manager of his Port Alberni church.)
James Scott of the United Church said there is relatively little solid information on deaths at the schools because archivists have been so focused on researching claims of living former students.
“My sense is that the more we find out about [the schools], the deeper our understanding of the catastrophic impact of the residential schools on aboriginal people, on their families and their culture,” he said.
Bede Hubbard of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said the Roman Catholic Church, which ran most of the schools, noted that previous research has shown the churches made many pleas to Ottawa for more money to improve standards. [The Catholic church has always been very wealthy - why were they not contibuting their own money for their mission works? ]
“I didn't realize that the rates of tuberculosis were that high. In the 1930s, tuberculosis was rampant in Canada itself, so it shouldn't be surprising then that it was also a problem in the residential schools.”
Prof. Milloy of Trent University is the only outsider to have accessed the locked vault of Indian Affairs records through his role as a senior researcher for the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.
In 1999, he published his research in a book titled A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System. Prof. Milloy expressed discomfort with the campaign of Mr. Annett and others to introduce language such as genocide and “aboriginal holocaust.”
What government and church records do show, he said, is that the deaths were primarily due to the policy of paying churches on a per-capita basis to run the schools. Numerous letters indicate that because of the funding policy, churches would admit sick children and refuse to send ailing ones home. [ because they did not want to lose the funding money- the money was more important then the safety of the children! ] Pleas to the department for more funding fell on deaf ears.
“That's why there's so many kids sleeping in so few beds in so many dormitories across the country,” Prof. Milloy said. “It has absolutely nothing to do with the idea of ‘Let's get them sick with tuberculosis and wipe them out as a species on the earth.' It's the fact that the feds won't spend any money on this, and that's what it leads to.”
As for Dr. Bryce, the man who first sounded the alarm, he was shuffled to another department. The position of chief medical officer was terminated and the government appears to have made no further effort to gather statistics on deaths at the schools. Ottawa did not take over control of all schools until 1969.
In 1922, after he retired, Dr. Bryce penned a diatribe against Ottawa's lack of response to his reports.
The title: The Story of a National Crime.
A HISTORY OF SHAME
Started before Confederation as part of religious missionary work, residential schools originally focused on replacing aboriginal beliefs with Christianity. More than 70 per cent of the schools were run by the Roman Catholic Church; the rest by the Anglican and United Churches.
The federal government started funding residential schools in 1874, using American Industrial Schools as the model for introducing manual labour and agricultural skills to natives. To encourage children to use English and French, they were physically punished for speaking their own languages.
OTTAWA TAKES OVER
There were 72 residential schools in 1948 and 9,368 students. Ottawa took full control of the schools in 1969 and most were closed during the 1970s. The last school shut its doors in 1996.
Stories of physical and sexual abuse began to emerge in the 1980s, and became major news when Manitoba Chief Phil Fontaine, now the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, went public with his story of sexual abuse as a student.
In April of 2006, Ottawa reached a $1.9-billion agreement with former students to settle their class-action lawsuits out of court and compensate for the loss of language and culture. Further money has been set aside to settle claims of physical and sexual abuse. Students have until Aug. 20 to accept the package. Bill Curry
Duncan Campbell Scott, a senior Indian Affairs official, talks about the inadequacy of the school buildings in a memorandum to Arthur Meighen, then Superintendent General of Indian Affairs. “They were unsanitary and they were undoubtedly chargeable with a very high death rate among the pupils.”
A report to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs says 33 students at the Sarcee school near Calgary are afflicted with tuberculosis.
W.M. Graham, Indian Commissioner for Saskatchewan, says in a letter to Mr. Scott: “We will have to do something to stop this indiscriminate admission of children without first passing a medical exam. ... I quite often hear from the Indians that they do not want to send their children to school as it is a place where they are sent to die.”
Russell T. Ferrier, Superintendent of Indian Education, writes to Indian commissioners and agents, saying each child should be pronounced fit by a medical officer before being admitted to a school. “When a pupil's health becomes a matter of concern soon after admission, the consequent parental alarm and distrust militates against successful recruiting.”
The Department of Indian Affairs announces that as a result of spending cutbacks, it cannot authorize admitting children with tuberculosis to a sanatorium or hospital unless the patient requires “care for relief of actual suffering.” Karen Howlett
Original source. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/
BILL CURRY and KAREN HOWLETT
William Coombs, 54, attended two British Columbia schools from 1958 to 1967, including Kamloops Indian Residential School and Mission Indian Residential School. Sylvester Green was sent to a school in Edmonton. The two men first told their stories in a film by Kevin Annett.
"I witnessed too many children being dragged by the hair" to the room of a Catholic brother, Mr. Combs said. "That's the worst thing that hurts me is the sexual abuse.
"That's what he was doing. I was dragged to that room one night and I found out what was happening. Sexual abuse and getting beat up and forced to stay in his room all night. I was about nine years old."
Eventually, he said, students threw a blanket over the brother's head and beat him up. They had watched it happen too many times.
by Bill Curry
Sylvester Green, 63, said: "No matter how old you are, it hurts. For me, I was sent to Edmonton in 1949 and I left there in 1959. In that school, there were three perpetrators. One of them was supposed to be a minister. On Sundays he would go up in the pulpit and preach the word of God. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, he would abuse the kids."
Beatings left pupil unable to be happy Peter Paul recalls running away from the Shubenacadie residential school in Nova Scotia after a particularly brutal beating. He was nine years old and had angered the orderly who took care of the boys on weekends by getting up from his bed to go to the bathroom.
"He picked me up two or three times, kicked me and threw me against the wall," Mr. Paul told The Globe and Mail. "He terrified me. After that happened, I could have killed him or run away."
Mr. Paul, now 50, ran away but he got caught and was returned to the school. It wasn't the first time he had ever been beaten. In fact, his refusal to cry on other occasions usually resulted in him receiving more lashes than the other boys.
One time, he said, his brother yelled, "You should at least pretend you're crying, you stupid son of a bitch."
But the beating by the orderly seemed to change everything, he said. "I didn't know how to be happy after that."
Mr. Paul, the youngest in a family of five children, went to the school when he was 5. He told his story for the first time to The Globe and has never even talked to his brothers and sister about their days at the school.
"I don't listen to anyone else's stories," he said.
by Karen Howlett
To start healing, hating has to stop. Debbie Paul has made her own peace with the nun who gave her the strap for merely fidgeting during mass when she attended the Shubenacadie residential school in Nova Scotia.
Ms. Paul, now 51, said she recently paid a visit to Sister DiGilberta, who is 92 and ill with cancer. It turned out that the nun had a photograph of Ms. Paul's younger sister, Maggie, who died in 1978 at the age of 21.
"She had hung on to the picture for 40 years," Ms. Paul said. But Sister DiGilberta gave the photograph to Ms. Paul, the only one she has of her sister.
Ms. Paul said if she hadn't been able to get over her anger, she never would have found out about the photograph.
"There comes a point in your life," she said, "when you have to stop hating, and you have to heal."