‘Not Even Human’ How Canadian Govt. Abused Aboriginal Children in TB Experiments

 

While aboriginal children died of tuberculosis in the 1930s and 1940s,  Canadian health officials tried out experimental vaccines on infants rather than  ameliorate the conditions of poverty that sparked that and a host of other  illnesses.

These revelations, while not new, have re-emerged in the wake of the  discovery that nutritional experiments were conducted on First Nations children  in the 1940s.

As with the nutritional experiments, the TB vaccine research capitalized on  the poverty of its subjects to conduct studies rather than address the  underlying factors leading to the high incidence of the lung infection, says a  report by the Aboriginal  Peoples Television Network (APTN).

“It is pretty depressing. It is just document after document. They treated  these people like they were not even human,” said Maureen Lux, a professor at  Brock University who is writing a book about the treatment of indigenous people  in TB sanitoriums, in an interview with the network. “It is definitely the  hardest thing I have ever done.”

In the interview posted by APTN on July 24, Lux discussed the findings she  had first published in a 1998 paper on the vaccine trials, which she is  expanding into the book due out next year.

“Historians have been reluctant to question medical care because we are  enthralled with the power of medicine,” she told APTN. “Once I started looking  at what was going and how they were operated and in whose interest, it becomes a  fairly dark story.”

In studying aboriginal people and the medical system, Lux examined reserve  conditions in southern Saskatchewan, in the Qu’Appelle region, during the early  20th century.

In expanding her paper on the treatment of indigenous people in sanatoriums,  she found that a federal program that ran from 1930 to 1932 had cut the  tuberculosis rate in half by improving housing conditions, drilling wells to  access better-quality water, and enhancing nutrition for children and pregnant  women. Lux’s paper, “Perfect Subjects: Race Tuberculosis and the Qu’Appelle BCG  Vaccine Trial,” detailed these findings, as well as the fact that the government  had chosen to ignore this solution and seek the cheaper method of simply  vaccinating babies against the disease, APTN reported.

“The general death rate and the infant mortality rate both also fell. Thus,  before the BCG vaccine trials were begun, the tuberculosis death rate had been  reduced by half by marginal improvements in living conditions, and especially by  segregating those with active tuberculosis,” wrote Lux, according to APTN.

Although the vaccine ultimately was proven to work—and is still in use  today—children died of gastroenteritis and pneumonia during the study period,  Lux wrote. Although some medical professionals expressed misgivings about the  ethics of such studies, they continued.

“Between October 1933 and 1945, a total of 609 infants were involved in the  tests—half given the vaccine, half not,” the Canadian  Press reported. “Results were clear: nearly five times as many cases of  TB among the non-vaccinated children. But the real lesson from the tests was the  connection between dire living conditions and overall health.”

The report went on to elaborate.

“Of the 609 children in the tests, 77 were dead before their first birthday,  only four of them from TB,” the Canadian Press wrote. “Both vaccinated and  unvaccinated groups had at least twice the non-tuberculosis death rate as the  general population.”

This would seem especially cruel in light of the TB scourge that persists  today, especially in Inuit communities.

 
But the experiments didn’t stop there, Lux told APTN. The TB antibiotic  streptomycin was administered to First Nations patients in other trials at  Charles Camsell hospital in Edmonton, which has since closed down. In addition,  Lux told APTN, doctors surgically removed TB from indigenous patients up until  the 1950s and 1960s, long after the practice had been discontinued in the  non-indigenous population.

“Do we interpret that surgeons and medical directors thought they were doing  right and never questioning the assumption that these people were going to  actually spread TB when they actually weren’t?” Lux told APTN. “They could do it  and they did it and that is as shocking as any kind of experiment.”

Read more at https://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/07/28/lab-rats-guinea-pigs-canadians-experimented-aboriginal-infants-tuberculosis-vaccine

Canadian Govt. Watched Kids Starve Like Lab Rats for ‘Science’

Even as brave soldiers, some of them aboriginal, fought to defeat the Nazis  and their notion of a master race during WW2, Canadian health authorities back  on the home front were busy using aboriginal kids as nutritional guinea  pigs.

“It was experiments being conducted on malnourished aboriginal people,” food  historian Ian Mosby revealed in an interview with CBC’s As  It Happens radio show on Tuesday July 16. “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.”

As the U.S. absorbs revelations of forced sterilization among female inmates  in California, the news from up north is resonating across Canada.

Mosby, who is earning his PhD in history at the University of Guelph, said  the research—which occurred without the subjects’ knowledge—was undertaken in  residential schools and remote aboriginal communities in Manitoba during and  just after World War II. He also uncovered plans for similar research in  residential schools in British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Alberta. About  1,300 aboriginal children were used in the experiments, the Canadian  Press reported.

The experiments were conducted beginning in 1942, when authorities visiting  remote northern communities in Manitoba found widespread malnutrition. Rather  than assist them, the authorities decided to conduct vitamin research, Mosby  said.

Mosby told the Canadian Press that he was not looking for anything like this.  He was merely researching health policy. But something struck him as strange, he  said.

“I started to find vague references to studies conducted on ‘Indians’ that  piqued my interest and seemed potentially problematic, to say the least,” he  said to the Canadian Press. “I went on a search to find out what was going  on.”

What he found disturbed him greatly. “It’s an emotionally difficult topic to  study,” he said.

According to the Canadian Press account, 300 children in Norway House Cree  were the first subjects, with 125 receiving vitamin supplements and the rest  left to their bodies’ own devices. Even those receiving the supplements were not  getting all they needed, Mosby wrote, because people were not getting enough  food—they were living on fewer than 1,500 calories daily rather than the adult  need of 2,000.

“The research team was well aware that these vitamin supplements only  addressed a small part of the problem,” Mosby wrote, according to the Canadian  Press. “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.”

This did not stop the research from spreading, with plans developed in 1947  to conduct similar experiments on 1,000 children in six residential schools in  Port Alberni, British Columbia, Kenora, Ontario, Schubenacadie, Nova Scotia and  Lethbridge, Alberta, the Canadian Press reported.

The Canadian government seemed caught off-guard by the revelations.

“If this is story is true, this is abhorrent and completely unacceptable,”  said a spokesperson for Bernard Valcourt, the minister of Aboriginal Affairs and  Northern Development, via e-mail late Tuesday to the Canadian Press. “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. Our Government remains  committed to a fair and lasting resolution to the legacy of the Indian  Residential Schools.”

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the June 8, 2008 official apology  delivered to residential school survivors by Harper on behalf of the Canadian  government. During the 150-year-long residential schools era, 150,000 aboriginal  students were ripped from their families, virtually interred in mostly  church-run boarding schools far from home, and forbidden to use their language  and culture.

First Nations advocates are already calling for government action. Wab Kinew,  who is the director of indigenous inclusion at the University of Winnipeg, said  the federal government should turn all that research over to the Truth and  Reconciliation Commission, which is compiling a history of the residential  school era, which ended in the 1990s.

“This is a reminder of a disgusting period in both Canadian and scientific  history when indigenous people and other non-whites were regarded as inferior,”  he told the Winnipeg  Free Press. “The end goal of course is to make sure things like this  never happen again.”

Read more at https://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/07/17/canadian-govt-watched-kids-starve-lab-rats-science-150464