He became the Chief Medical Health Officer of Ontario. He wrote the very first Health Code in Ontario. He was president of the American Public Health Association. He was a North American expert on public health. Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce wanted to become Canada’s first public health officer. When an opening came up at Indian Affairs, he decided it would be a good stepping stone.
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
Bryce, Peter H. Report on the Indian Schools of Manitoba and the North-West Territories. Ottawa: Government Printing Bureau, 1907. https://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2018/aanc-inac/R5-681-1907-eng.pdf
Bryce, Peter H. The Story of a National Crime: Being an Appeal for Justice to the Indians of Canada. Ottawa: James Hope & Sons, 1922. https://archive.org/details/storyofnationalc00brycuoft/page/n6/mode/1up
Green, Adam. “Telling 1922s Story of a National Crime: Canada’s First Chief Medical Officer and the Aborted Fight for Aboriginal Health Care.” Canadian Journal of Native Studies 26, no. 2 (2006): 211-28.
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.
“Indian Schools Deal Out Death.” Daily British Colonist (Victoria, BC), November 16, 1907.
Milloy, John. A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879 – 1986. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
“Schools Aid White Plague.” Evening Citizen (Ottawa, ON), November 15, 1907.
Sproule-Jones, Megan. “Crusading for the Forgotten: Dr. Peter Bryce, Public Health, and Prairie Native Residential Schools.” Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 13, no. 2 (Fall 1996): 199-224.
“The Front Page.” Saturday Night Magazine (Toronto, ON), November 23, 1907. https://archive.org/details/sim_saturday-night_1907-11-23_21_6