The other week I was talking to a retired health care professional and the subject of higher rates of TB among First Nation populations came up. This person made comments that would suggest that the cause of this was due to some lack of hygiene or character.
A few days later I heard a heart breaking interview on CBC with a woman that is writing a book about the horrible history of ‘Native Hospitals.’ These institutions existed all across Canada for many decades and while they were called hospitals they were more a combination of warehouses and torture chambers. The idea was to isolate the Native population with TB, a European disease that they are more susceptible to. But all sick and injured Native people were sent to these poorly staffed and equipped buildings, whether they had TB or not, and no attempt was made to separate patients with or without TB, thus infecting many more Native people.
The horrendous stories of survivors that spent years of their childhood tied tightly to beds and suffering malnutrition, not let outside for years at a time are enough to make anyone break down and cry. As in the Residential Schools many children died from neglect and abuse and were buried without ceremony.
We all need to learn more about the true history of the colonization of this land and educate ourselves on what is going on now. What I learned from this is that prejudice comes from lack of information and education.