Secret Canadian Research

As if the legacy of Canadian residential schools wasn’t enough; a sickening new chapter in this horror story has surfaced. In 1942 researchers visiting native reservations in northern Manitoba reported malnourished populations. Rather than move to improve conditions, the Canadian government funded research on malnutrition using these “captive” test subjects.

Ian Mosby from the University of Guelph discovered “vague references to studies conducted on Indians” while researching documents for development of health policy in Canada.It seems the government conducted experiments into the need for vitamins, jumping on the opportunity to use already malnourished children as test subjects.  Aboriginal children across the country were “starved” to create a “baseline” for changes that occurred when proper nutrition became available. The first experiment in 1942 was conducted on 300 residents of Norway House Cree, 125 were given vitamin supplements. At the time residents survived on 1500 calories a day – well under the 2000 calories recommended to maintain body weight. By 1947 tests were being conducted at residential school children across the country. Children had milk rations cut in half – at one school for 2 years before increasing it to normal, and documenting their findings. Some schools gave half the children supplements of vitamins, iron, and iodine; another school withheld vitamin B1 to create a baseline for when it was added. Yet another school gave no supplements and minimal food to create a baseline. Regardless of school – dental care was denied as researchers felt it would muddy baselines.

Anyone who doesn’t know about Canada’s residential school shame should read this post….

I can’t say this story shocks me, history has proven it sucks to be an aboriginal person of any country.My ponder lies more with the hope my government does the right thing by acknowledging how messed up our thinking was. Stephen Harper needs to “man up” and start dealing with simmering anger from our aboriginal population.

8 thoughts on “Secret Canadian Research

  1. I used to live in Buffal, NY and loved to visit Toronto, one of my most favorite citiesI’ve been in. I have as fondness for Canadians. I think there is something very simple about Canada. ?I don’t know what it is. Maybe its that they are not like the staties. Somehow I’m not surprised by what you found. It has a quaintness about it. In the states you never would have found out about something like that because they would kmnow they were doing something wrong. I think Canadians are good hearted people. Forgive them their foibles.>KB

    • Toronto is nice though I prefer Montreal or Quebec City.And yes – Canada has a simple, practical approach to governing the country. Our political system is “no fuss”, protected from financial influence, unburdened by congress or senate, able to function at a fraction of the American political gong show budget.Perceptions of Canada as “simple” or “small town feel” are easily explained – it boils down to good manners, respect, and a willingness to engage other cultures. Canada was the destination for the underground railway – it has always been a tolerant country. That said we don’t lack shameful chapters in our history. Human nature is universal.

      Finding my story “quaint”, suggesting we forgive foibles, left me speechless. Government funded experiments to further starve malnourished children in the interest of science is about as quaint as the Syphilis experiments carried out by the American government on poor African American share croppers in the 30’s and 40’s.

      I realize your remarks were intended to point out acknowledgement by our government of these events – this Canadian respectfully believes talk is cheap, action is slow to non-existent.

      Canada is a different place with so much going for it – we still have ugly, far from quaint skeletons in our closet.:)

  2. I love this country but……. I guess small pox infected blankets weren’t enough.
    And I prefer Vancouver. 🙂

  3. My fore fathers settled in Alberta in the late 1870’s. I have no idea how they treated the First Nations people they encountered. I have no idea how their offspring treated the Ukrainians (my husband’s forefathers) or the Japanese (my son-in-law’s forefathers) or the Chinese (my friends forefathers.)

    I do know that the Ukrainians and Japanese and Chinese I know all feel like they are Canadians, and they do not expect me to apologize to them for what my forefathers did to their people.

    I have a friend who is German. He was not born yet when Hitler was in power, and he wishes people would stop thinking that he, and all German people, are somehow responsible for what Nazi Germany did.

    The point is, Canada is not so lily white. No country is. Canada has, in the past, done bad things to people. But why is this government responsible for the acts of governments from 65 years ago or 100 years ago?

    How do First Nations move forward if they live in the victim hood of the past? How often will the ‘small pox infected blankets’ be pulled out as an example of what the ‘white man’ is really like? When do First Nation’s people choose to become Canadians, not members of independent Sovereign Nations?

      • Yes, I remember commenting on your ‘idle no more’ post.
        I truly wish I could see some spark of leadership that was pointing the First Nations towards a better future. But every time they dredge up the horrors of their past, I just know it is going to be a demand for more money and I think many Canadians are wondering how pouring more money into an already flawed system is going to make things any better.

  4. Loved this post. Re: the “problems” with idle no more it’s important to remember that it is a multi-faceted and grassroots campaign. I can understand that older campaigners are far more invested in the legacy of residential schools which, unfortunately, can make it disengaging for anyone born since 1996. Sadly, this is even more disengaging for families who have moved to Canada since then and as such don’t relate to Canada’s past.

    However, if there’s one brilliant emphasis of the INM movement, its the activism and assertion of the aboriginal youth. Who, like you, do not relate to the trauma of residential schools. And do not want to.
    Thought provoking post. Enjoyed it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s