This Recent discovery The more than 1,300 unmarked graves at the site of four former boarding schools in western Canada shocked and frightened Canadians. The families and lives of the aborigines have been plagued by the legacy of the Canadian Indian boarding school system, and they have long been expecting such a revelation. But the news still reopened the painful wound.
boarding school survivor witness For a long time, it has been filled with stories of students digging graves for classmates, unmarked tombs on campus, and stories of children missing under suspicious circumstances. Many of these stories were heard by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), which was established in 2008 and collected the testimonies of more than 6,750 survivors. TRC’s 2015 summary report It is very clear that further restoration of unmarked graves in the school is inevitable.
After all, the goals of the Indian boarding school system in Canada are the same as those of the Indian boarding school in the United States: “Kill the Indian, save that man. Between 1883 and 1997, more than 150,000 children were often forcibly taken away and placed in remote boarding schools, focusing on manual labor, religious education, and cultural assimilation. The TRC final report concluded that the Indian boarding school system is a kind of try”Cultural genocide“But the number of unmarked graves discovered is increasing, which indicates something darker. Given that only 4 out of 139 federal government-operated boarding schools have used ground penetrating radar to identify more than 1,300 graves, currently Official number 4,120 The students who are known to have died in the school will eventually account for only a small percentage of the actual total.
Defender of the boarding school system Arguing in recent weeks Most of the children buried in these schools died of diseases such as tuberculosis (TB), and during a period of similar destruction in their communities, the schools did everything they could to provide education and medical services to the Aboriginal, Inuit, and Metis children . disease. But even a cursory reading of historical documents about boarding schools can tell how wrong this line of thinking is.
The reality is that the condition of the school itself is the main cause of the often shocking student mortality rate. In 1907, Peter Bryce, Chief Medical Officer of Indian Affairs Reported some truly disturbing findings To his superiors. After visiting 35 government-funded schools in Western Canada, Bryce reported that 25% of all children attending these schools had died; in one school, the number was 69%. Although Bryce reported that “the almost constant cause of death was tuberculosis,” he never thought it was natural or inevitable. Instead, Bryce blamed the shocking death rates on the schools themselves, which were poorly constructed, lacked proper ventilation, and often placed sick students in dormitories with healthy classmates.
Bryce was not the only one who warned the school. In the more than 100 years of the system’s history, school inspectors, principals, medical officials and Indian agents have repeatedly issued warnings about unhealthy schools.This File record Explain in detail the inadequacy of school medical facilities, the absence of isolation rooms and the shortage of school nurses. It also recorded chronically overcrowded and dilapidated buildings, poor ventilation, insufficient heating, and severely inadequate nutrition for students.
Food and nutrition issues in particular illustrate how poor school conditions harm the health of students. JR Miller as a boarding school historian Already written, “‘We are always hungry’ can be used as the slogan of any former boarding school student organization.” TRC collected The haunting testimony of survivors, Including Andrew Paul, who described his experience at the Roman Catholic boarding school in Aklavík in the Northwest Territories: “We cry before going to bed and want to eat something good. Many times, the food we eat is rancid and full of maggots. ,smelly.”
Of course, malnutrition damages children’s immune systems, making them more susceptible to tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. In the case of tuberculosis, learn It has been consistently shown that the type of malnutrition commonly described by Paul and other survivors leads to a significant increase in the death rate of infected persons.And as Our own research Studies have shown that it may also lead to a higher lifetime risk of a series of chronic diseases including obesity, type 2 diabetes and hypertension.
Before and after Bryce’s curse report, the government and church authorities were very aware of the level of hunger and malnutrition in schools. For example, in the 1940s, a series of inspections conducted by the Federal Department of Nutrition on schools found that poor food service and general malnutrition were almost common in schools. After an attempt to improve the training of school chefs ended in failure, LB Pett, the head of the nutrition department, chose to use the poor health of the children as an opportunity to study various experimental nutrition interventions (and non-interventions, non-interventions, and facts). Enter the diet of malnourished children.
The result is a Series of nutrition experiments Between 1948 and 1952, nearly 1,000 children in six boarding schools were studied. This included a double-blind randomized trial to examine the effects of nutritional supplements on children showing clinical symptoms of vitamin C deficiency. Half of the students received a placebo and the other half received vitamin tablets; in Kenora, Ontario The St. Mary’s School examined the effects of experimental fortified flour mixtures including ground bone meal; and the Alberni School in British Columbia to check for insufficient and adequate milk intake for children with clinical symptoms of riboflavin deficiency The influence of the group.
None of these experiments solved the root cause of malnutrition in schools. It was just that the food provided to students was insufficient in quantity and quality. After all, according to Pate’s own calculations, the per capita federal funding for food in most schools is often half of what is needed to maintain a balanced diet. The same is true for almost every aspect of the boarding school system, from its establishment to the closing of the last school in 1997, and structurally underfunded. Compared with provincial-funded public schools and boarding schools, boarding schools receive very little funding.In Manitoba, Indian Affairs paid 180 USD per year In 1938, boarding school students received funding from the provincial government, while boarding schools such as Manitoba School for the Deaf and Manitoba Boys’ Home received US$642 and US$550 from the provincial government each year.In contrast, the amount of funding for American Indian boarding schools is USD 350 per capita.
A similar situation arises when we study the types of health care provided to boarding school students diagnosed with tuberculosis-the impact of this disease is made worse by the conditions in the boarding school.By the 1940s, students with tuberculosis were sent from the boarding school Apartheid Indian hospital or tuberculosis nursing home—Usually without their parents’ knowledge or consent — they often stay there for several years. The funding rate for Indian hospitals and nursing homes (such as boarding schools) is much lower—usually only 50% of the per capita cost of non-indigenous patients in provincial and municipal hospitals and nursing homes—which means providing support to indigenous children with the following diseases Medical care for tuberculosis is unqualified.
Indigenous patients, some as young as newborns, are also more likely to undergo permanent debilitating surgery and have a longer hospital stay than non-indigenous patients. This is partly because people believe that indigenous patients cannot be “trusted” to follow the drug system at home, and partly because hospitals are part of the federal government’s indigenous people’s assimilation program. Patients, especially children, the longer they stay in Indian hospitals, the more likely they are to lose their indigenous language and contact with their home communities.
Similar to the common practice in boarding schools, the managers of hospitals and nursing homes Inform family members not strictly Regarding the circumstances of the child’s death, the place where they were buried, or, disturbingly, the child patient has passed away. Many families still don’t know what happened to their relatives who left these institutions. Never come back.
Obviously, the boarding school defenders claimed that these children “only” died of tuberculosis, and ultimately they were trying to whitewash many boarding school survivors and More and more scholars-Including ourselves-was characterized as genocide, full stop. Many children do die from tuberculosis and the epidemic of measles, flu and other infectious diseases.But it’s clear that these long-term and intentionally Actually underfunded institutions cause The student mortality rate is high. It is also indisputable that, according to the government’s own records, generations of federal government officials and politicians have known that poor school conditions are killing children, but they have chosen to do nothing.
This is an opinion and analysis article; opinions expressed Author or author Not necessarily those Scientific american.