- The Facts: Canadian residential school children were subjected to immoral and unethical medical experiments.
- Reflect On: Has history changed? Is there any way the current citizenry could be subjected to medical experimentation without our knowing it? Has it simply become more sophisticated?
The United States and Canadian government, among others, have quite a dark history when it comes to experimenting on human beings. It can still send shockwaves through ones system when thinking about how recently some of these atrocities occurred. Many of them occurred at Canadian residential schools. Looking back on these events gives us a chance to not repeat these events in the future.
You may have heard about the recent remains of 215 children that were discovered at the site of what was Kamloops residential school in British Columbia. This is mostly likely not an isolated incident. It makes one wonder, how did they die? Were they murdered? Given the history of the indigenous in the Americas and the atrocities that occurred at Canadian residential schools as told by many survivors, this seems to be the most likely case. Survivors have told stories of sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, torture, hard labour, missing children and more.
Residential schools in Canada were set up by the Canadian government and administered by the churches, this system can be traced back to the 1830s. Indigenous children were forcefully taken from their parents and indoctrinated into Euro-Canadian and Christian ways of living. The goal, on paper, was to assimilate them into mainstream Canadian society. The residential school system officially operated from the 1880s into the closing decades of the 20th century. Keep in mind, all of this came after arguably the largest genocide ever seen.
Scholars have estimated that, prior to the ‘discovery’ of the Americas by Europeans, the pre-contact era population could have been as high as 100 million people. American anthropologist and ethnohistorian Henry F. Dobyns, most known for his published research on American Indians and Hispanic peoples in Latin and North America, estimated that more than one hundred and twelve million people inhabited the Americas prior to European arrival.
Up until the point of the initiation of the Residential school system, the indigenous in this area had already been through so many unimaginable atrocities.
Much of what went on at these schools has been disclosed and released into the public domain, but the sad truth is we will probably never really know the extent of the horrors experienced at residential schools. One thing that did come to light was the fact that these children were used for medical research. In 2013 historian Ian Mosby published evidence showing that the Canadian government conducted nutritional experiments on Indigenous children. The tests were done without informed consent or knowledge.