Genocide is state sponsored mass murder. It takes two forms, the most known is the annihilation of an entire race or ethnic group. Then there is the more subtle form that takes effect over generations – “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or part”, as defined by Barbara Harff and Ted Robert Gurr, “Toward Empirical Theory of Genocides and Politicides: Identification and Measurement of Cases Since 1945.” Center on Law and Globalization.In 1928, a government official predicted Canada would end its “Indian problem” within two generations. Indigenous children of Canada were deliberately starved in the 1940s and ’50s by government researchers in the name of science.
Rochelle Johnston wrote on Rabble, an online news source covering Canada:
“While there may not have been a master plan to execute every Aboriginal person in Canada, throughout much of our history there has been a deeply and widely held belief that First Nations, Metis and Inuit, as groups, should cease to exist. Reducing the number of Aboriginal people and eliminating those who weren’t willing to assimilate into Euro-Canadian society was helpful to this cause. Evidence of genocidal desires can be found in any number of government documents and public statements, and when the conditions were right, Canadians, whether bureaucrats, researchers, doctors, missionaries, social workers or entrepreneurs, felt justified in carrying out a range of genocidal acts.”
Milk rations were halved for years at residential schools across the country. Essential vitamins were kept from people who needed them. Dental services were withheld because gum health was a measuring tool for scientists and dental care would distort research.
For over a decade, indigenous children and adults were unknowingly subjected to nutritional experiments by Canadian government bureaucrats.
This disturbing look into government policy toward indigenous peoples after World War II comes to light in recently published historical research.
When Canadian researchers went to a number of northern Manitoba reserves in 1942, they found rampant malnourishment. But instead of recommending increased federal support to improve the health of hundreds of the people suffering from a collapsing fur trade and already limited government aid, they decided against it. Nutritionally deprived people would be the perfect test subjects, researchers thought.
The details come from Ian Mosby, a post-doctorate at the University of Guelph, whose research focused on one of the most horrific aspects of government policy toward indigenous peoples during a time when rules for research on humans were just being adopted by the scientific community.
Researching the development of health policy for a different research project, Mosby uncovered “vague references to studies conducted on ‘Indians’ ” and began to investigate. Government documents eventually revealed a long-standing, government-run experiment that came to span the entire country and involved at least 1,300 indigenous, most of them children.
Any time the body is depleted of vital liquids and nutrients, there are several physical side effects that take place. These effects essentially happen because the body is trying to conserve energy for survival. According to the LiveStrong Foundation, even if a child survived long periods of starvation, they might experience abnormal growth and other forms of permanent damage. For example, nearly all bone development happens before adulthood, so children who fail to get sufficient calcium in their diets are likely to experience osteoporosis or other bone composition problems later as adults.
Academics and social activists have said Canada’s historical treatment of indigenous people meets the UN definition of genocide, which is the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group through any of a number of means. They include killing the group’s members, causing them serious mental or physical harm, subjecting them to unsustainable living conditions, preventing births and forcibly transferring their children to another group.
This atrocity is one of many church-run, government-funded assimilation efforts of residential schools for native children, to rid them of their heritage. The aims were devastating for those who were subjected to various physical and emotional abuse; many were forced removed from their families and tribes.
Johnston writes, “If it wasn’t for Canada, and a contingent of colonizing nations who in 1948 gutted a whole section of the UN Genocide Convention, the other “kinder” and “gentler” techniques of genocide we were and are still using against Aboriginal peoples would also be crimes.”
In 2008, the Canadian government made a formal public apology to the surviving children of the residential schools, their families and their nation.
Indigenous children were abused, mistreated, removed from their families and used as test subjects.