A Brief Look at Indian Hospitals in Canada
June 03, 2017
We would like to acknowledge that this article was framed from the research and writing of authors Maureen Lux (Separate Beds A History of Indian Hospitals in Canada, 1920s - 1980s) and Gary Geddes (Medicine Unbundled A Journey Through the Minefields of Indigenous Health Care).
In this article we use 'Indian' as that was the term used at the time. For information on appropriate terminology, download our free ebook “Indigenous Peoples: A Guide to Terminology.
The history of Indian hospitals (1920s - 1980s) in Canada is not as well known as that of residential schools but is as horrific in both its actions and the implication of those actions. This aspect of Canadian history shows that care for the health of Indians was never a priority and never on par with the care available for Europeans. Health care for Indians, such as it was, was motivated by a number of factors that range from keeping as many patients 'interned' as possible to maintain government funding, to ensure a steady number of subjects for medical and nutritional experiments, and to ensure that the European population was protected from exposure to 'Indian tuberculosis.'
"Repeatedly referring to the disease as “Indian tuberculosis,” a common practice among bureaucrats and the medical professionals in the Canadian Tuberculosis Association, was tantamount to racial profiling, and indeed pathologized the very notion of Indianness.” 
Segregated medical treatment for Indian patients was the norm in community hospitals where they were treated in the basement or 'Indian annexes' but the outbreak of tuberculosis (TB) introduced segregation on a larger scale.
“Death rates in the 1930s and 1940s were in excess of 700 deaths per 100,000 persons, among the highest ever reported in a human population…..Tragically, TB death rates among children in residential schools were even worse.” 
It is important to understand the symbiotic connection between the high incidence of TB in Indians and residential schools
. Many of the residential schools, with the overcrowding, malnutrition, and lack of heat were fertile sites for the rampant spread of the highly communicable tuberculosis virus. Children who became infected were sent to the Indian hospitals, and when they showed signs of recovery, were sent back to the residential school. This mutually beneficial arrangement maintained the numbers and funding of both organizations.
Just as it was legal, under the Indian Act, to apprehend Indian children and put them in segregated (residential) schools it was legal to apprehend Indians suspected of having TB and quarantine them. Interestingly, that part of the Act remains today.
“Not yet having achieved the status of “persons,” never mind citizens of Canada, they were susceptible to quarantine or incarceration at the whim of doctors, Indian agents, or government officials. Declaring individuals contagious was a good means of control, keeping them out of trouble or out of circulation while the task of clearing the land was underway.” 
In some centres, the local doctor was also the Indian agent.
Health Canada is neck deep in why the health conditions have bee so bad for 7 decades. The Schools and Hospitals were forced to shut down rather than they did it on their own. The same types of experiments are still being applied to remote villages and prisoners in remote locations so they are hiding their tracks better rather than there has been any kindness extended to the lab-rats.