2022 marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of The Story of a National Crime. It was written by Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce. It was an eighteen-page pamphlet containing evidence of neglect, negligence and harm to First Nations children and their communities. From 1904 to 1913, Bryce was the medical inspector for the Department of the Interior and Indian Affairs. It was not the first time he had spoken out. This pamphlet was his appeal for justice and his condemnation of federal inaction.
The Right to Know – The Story of a National Crime
In this series, we look at the practices, policies, and official correspondence to reveal the intentional actions and acts of indifference that contributed to poor health and lethal outcomes. There will be examples of people who pushed back – the whistleblowers – the parents, the Indigenous communities, the bureaucrats, and members of the clergy. The experts interviewed highlight how archival documents only reveal part of the history and that numerous questions remain.
Content Warning: This series talks about Indian Residential Schools, medical racism, segregated health care, and missing patients.
If you are a Residential School Survivor or Intergenerational Survivor, you can access support through the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419. Mental health and crisis support is also available through Hope 4 Wellness at 1-855-242-3310.
Written/Produced by Maia-Foster Sanchez
Co-Producer: Ryan Barnett
Additional Voices: Gabriel Maracle
Our series advisors are Teresa Edwards, Kaila Johnston, and Erin Millions.
Artwork by Caleb Ellison-Dysart
A Knockabout Media Production | Funded by the Government of Canada
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Daschuk, James. Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life. Regina: University of Regina Press, 2019.
Daschuk, James, Paul Hackett, and Scott MacNeil. “Treaties and Tuberculosis: First Nations People in Late 19th-century Western Canada, a Political and Economic Transformation.” Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 23, no. 2 (February 2006): 307-30.
Grygier, Pat Sandiford. Long Way from Home: The Tuberculosis Epidemic among the Inuit. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1997.
Hackett, Paul. “‘That Will Not Be Done Again’: The Fort Alexander Preventorium and the Fight against Tuberculosis in Indian Residential Schools, 1937–39.” Native Studies Review 21, no. 1 (2012): 1 – 41.
Meijer Drees, Laurie. Healing Histories: Stories from Canada’s Indian Hospitals. Edmonton: The University of Alberta Press, 2013.
Milloy, John. A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879 – 1986. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
“Remains of 215 children found at the site of former residential school in B.C.” APTN. Last modified May 28, 2021. Accessed July 12, 2022.
Shaheen-Hussain, Samir. Fighting for A Hand to Hold Confronting Medical Colonialism against Indigenous Children in Canada. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2020.