Dying to be treated: A residential school approach

Whats is Tuberculosis?

According to the Centre for Disease Control, Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that can cause symptoms and disease throughout the lungs and other organs. Pulmonary TB is defined by persistent coughing greater than 3 weeks with or without bloody sputum, chest pain and can spread to the kidneys, bones and even skin; Laboratory tests are used to confirm the diagnosis.

Throughout the multitude of research and data, the failure to identify the cause and effect relationship between Indian act policies and Infection rates continues to this day. Onkwehonwe communities are often frowned upon for having “dirty’ environments when in reality, it’s often non-community members who unknowingly bring in diseases to the community by offering assistance for progress.

In 2012, 10% of all reported cases in Canada were Canadian-born non-Aboriginal people, 23% were Canadian-born Aboriginal people, and 67% of cases were foreign-born.

Tuberculosis in Canada 1924-2012

Untreated infection is still negligent homicide


Experimental care was carried out on Onkwehonwe to assess the efficacy of treatments for the wider population. There were devastating results with survivors of these experiments with some having grown up in segregated wings of the hospital. Some of the legislation that promoted this type of behaviour still exists today

Not all Tuberculosis cases were left untreated amongst Onkwehonwe, but those cases are now being looked at as the exception and not the rule. In light of the funding guidelines, residential schools and sanatoriums had revolving doors for children recovering from TB, returning to the same environment to get sick all over again.

In the Early 1900’s fresh air and rest were the doctor’s orders for the rest of the population, What was different about the Onkwehonwe TB?

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