Author Topic: Truth & Reconciliation Cms'n: Indian Residential Schools  (Read 2597 times)

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Offline Xelebes

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Truth & Reconciliation Cms'n: Indian Residential Schools
« on: August 22, 2013, 10:17:16 PM »
CBC has been posting some good articles in the last month or two on new revelations coming from these schools.

CBC News

Hungry aboriginal people used in bureaucrats' experiments

Food historian published details of nutritional experiments that began in the 1940s

The Canadian government says it's appalled to hear hungry aboriginal children and adults may have been used as unwitting subjects in nutritional experiments by federal bureaucrats.

Recently published research by food historian Ian Mosby has revealed details about one of the least-known but perhaps most disturbing aspects of government policy toward aboriginal people immediately after the Second World War.

"It was experiments being conducted on malnourished aboriginal people," Mosby, a post-doctoral fellow in history at the University of Guelph, told CBC's As It Happens program on Tuesday.

    AS IT HAPPENS: Hear the interview with Ian Mosby

"It started with research trips in northern Manitoba where they found, you know, widespread hunger, if not starvation, among certain members of the community. And one of their immediate responses was to design a controlled experiment on the effectiveness of vitamin supplementation on this population."

Mosby also found that plans were developed for research on aboriginal children in residential schools in British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Alberta.

"If this is story is true, this is abhorrent and completely unacceptable," a spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt stated in an email late Tuesday.

"When Prime Minister [Stephen] Harper made a historic apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools in 2008 on behalf of all Canadians, he recognized that this period had caused great harm and had no place in Canada."

The spokesperson added that the federal government "remains committed to a fair and lasting resolution to the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools."
Visited northern Manitoba reserves

Mosby — whose work at the University of Guelph focuses on the history of food in Canada — was researching the development of health policy when he ran across something strange.

"I started to find vague references to studies conducted on 'Indians' that piqued my interest and seemed potentially problematic, to say the least," he told The Canadian Press. "I went on a search to find out what was going on."

Government documents eventually revealed a long-standing, government-run experiment that came to span the entire country and involved at least 1,300 aboriginals, most of them children.

It began with a 1942 visit by government researchers to a number of remote reserve communities in northern Manitoba, including places such as The Pas and Norway House.

They found people who were hungry, beggared by a combination of the collapsing fur trade and declining government support. They also found a demoralized population marked by, in the words of the researchers, "shiftlessness, indolence, improvidence and inertia."

The researchers suggested those problems — "so long regarded as inherent or hereditary traits in the Indian race" — were in fact the results of malnutrition.

Instead of recommending an increase in support, the researchers decided that isolated, dependent, hungry people would be ideal subjects for tests on the effects of different diets.

"This is a period of scientific uncertainty around nutrition," said Mosby. "Vitamins and minerals had really only been discovered during the interwar period.

"In the 1940s, there were a lot of questions about what are human requirements for vitamins. Malnourished aboriginal people became viewed as possible means of testing these theories."
Some selected to receive vitamins

The first experiment began in 1942 on 300 Norway House Cree. Of that group, 125 were selected to receive vitamin supplements which were withheld from the rest.

At the time, researchers calculated the local people were living on less than 1,500 calories a day. Normal, healthy adults generally require at least 2,000.

"The research team was well aware that these vitamin supplements only addressed a small part of the problem," Mosby writes. "The experiment seems to have been driven, at least in part, by the nutrition experts' desire to test their theories on a ready-made 'laboratory' populated with already malnourished human experimental subjects."

The research spread. In 1947, plans were developed for research on about 1,000 hungry aboriginal children in six residential schools in Port Alberni, B.C., Kenora, Ont., Schubenacadie, N.S., and Lethbridge, Alta.

One school deliberately held milk rations for two years to less than half the recommended amount to get a 'baseline' reading for when the allowance was increased. At another, children were divided into one group that received vitamin, iron and iodine supplements and one that didn't.

One school depressed levels of vitamin B1 to create another baseline before levels were boosted. A special enriched flour that couldn't legally be sold elsewhere in Canada under food adulteration laws was used on children at another school.

And, so that all the results could be properly measured, one school was allowed none of those supplements.

Many dental services were withdrawn from participating schools during that time. Gum health was an important measuring tool for scientists and they didn't want treatments on children's teeth distorting results.
Ethically dubious, says researcher

The experiments, repugnant today, would probably have been considered ethically dubious even at the time, said Mosby.

"I think they really did think they were helping people. Whether they thought they were helping the people that were actually involved in the studies, that's a different question."

He noted that rules for research on humans were just being formulated and adopted by the scientific community.

Little has been written about the nutritional experiments. A May 2000 article in the Anglican Journal about some of them was the only reference Mosby could find.

"I assumed that somebody would have written about an experiment conducted on aboriginal people during this period, and kept being surprised when I found more details and the scale of it. I was really, really surprised.

"It's an emotionally difficult topic to study."

Not much was learned from those hungry little bodies. A few papers were published — "they were not very helpful," Mosby said — and he couldn't find evidence that the Norway House research program was completed.

"They knew from the beginning that the real problem and the cause of malnutrition was underfunding. That was established before the studies even started and when the studies were completed that was still the problem."

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Xelebes

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Re: Truth & Reconciliation Cms'n: Indian Residential Schools
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2013, 10:19:56 PM »
CBC News

Ear experiments done on kids at Kenora residential school

14 different drugs tried on children with ear infections, school nurse's report shows

 By Jody Porter, CBC News
Posted: Aug 8, 2013 11:40 AM ET
Last Updated: Aug 8, 2013 7:53 PM ET

A local doctor and a school nurse experimented with 14 different drugs to treat "ear troubles" in children at Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora, according to a 1954 report obtained by CBC News.

The report, from the Indian and Northern Health Services archive, said that some of the children being treated became deaf.

School nurse Kathleen Stewart wrote the report, entitled "Record of Ear Treatments and Investigation."

"The most conspicuous evidence of ear trouble at Cecilia Jeffrey School has been the offensive odour of the children's breath, discharging ears, lack of sustained attention, poor enunciation when speaking and loud talking," she wrote.
Students at the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora were the subject of nutritional experiments and exposed to experimental treatments for ear infections. Some became deaf. Students at the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora were the subject of nutritional experiments and exposed to experimental treatments for ear infections. Some became deaf. (The Presbyterian Church in Canada Archives)

Stewart said the children were taught to irrigate their own ears, or the ears of younger children, with hot water. A doctor visited the school on a weekly basis looking out for ear infections "and the recommended medicine was used when possible," Stewart wrote.
Damaged ear drums

Former student Richard Green said he remembers the nose drops used to treat what Stewart described as "mouth breathing."

"All these things … we had nose drops, there were some different kinds of pills that we took for nutrition, I don't know what they were, I still don't know what they are," Green said.

    INTERACTIVE: Learn more about the history of Cecilia Jeffrey residential school

In a followup report, entitled "Experimentation and Treatment of Ear Disease Among 165 Pupils," Stewart noted three of the children "were almost deaf with no ear drums, six had [hearing in] one ear gone."

Some of the case files reported the children to be in better health after having had a holiday at home. A handwritten note at the bottom of one file read: "returned to school well, but obviously deaf."
'Lacklustre' government response

"The new information that's coming out now, it's been very troubling for the students who went there," Green added. "It's hard to process."

Green said it's especially frustrating since many former students have already completed their hearings as part of the residential school settlement agreement. He said the legal process placed an unfair burden on survivors to recall what happened when they were children, while the government withheld documents like the ones obtained by CBC News.

"People are done their healing, now new information comes out, you don't know what to do with it," Green said. "That aggravates a lot of things."

A University of Guelph food historian recently highlighted the nutritional experiments at residential schools, including Cecilia Jeffrey in Kenora. In an interview with CBC, Ian Mosby said doctors and scientists around the world regularly used vulnerable populations and took a race-based approach to their work in the 1950s.

    LISTEN: An interview with Ian Mosby

But other countries have unconditionally apologized and fully disclosed the details of those experiments, Mosby said.

"The response of the Canadian government in the case of the experiments conducted in Canada has been more lacklustre," he said. "It doesn't seem like there is a thorough attempt to get to the bottom of what was happening during this period and whether these were the only experiments."
Running out of time

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada had to go to court to gain access to more of the 3.5 million documents related to residential schools. Researchers with the commission began combing through them this week.

Murray Sinclair, the commission's chair, has said he is concerned there might not be enough time to get all the work done by June 2014, when the TRC's mandate is supposed to be complete.

Former student Green said survivors are also running out of time to come to terms with their painful history.

The 65-year-old's voice still breaks when he thinks about his younger siblings, whose residential school experiences he witnessed.

"The stuff you're seeing, you witnessed … I think it was just terror," he said. "We were terrified."

Survivors of Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School will gather for a commemorative event on Aug.14 in Kenora.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Xelebes

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« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »