TB, tainted milk and residential schools

MOHAWK VILLAGE, SIX NATIONS – It seems the abuse of indigenous children at the infamous Indian residential schools knew no bounds at all. This time, the money driven abuse knowingly spilled over to the mainstream population of Brantford and no one did anything about it.

According to reports filed to Indian Affairs, both the New England Company, who managed the Mohawk Institute and the ST. GEORGE’S SCHOOL OF LYTTON, B.C., and the government of Canada had a little secret. They knew that resident livestock and the milk it produced and sold to local neighbours and businesses to offset operating costs, was tainted. A series of documents in the National Archives acknowledges the cows, and the milk were tainted with tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis, or Consumption as it was once known, can be transmittable to humans through meat and milk products. This was well known when the New England Company and the Government of Canada were completing an administration transfer for both schools back in the 1920s.

According to a ninteenth century medical journals of the day, “Mycobacterium tuberculosis most commonly affects the respiratory tract, but it could also infect gastrointestinal, bones, joints, nervous systems, lymph nodes, genitourinary tract and skin with inflammatory infiltration, caseation, necrosis, abscesses, fibrosis, formation of tubercles and calcification.”

During the negotiations, the ownership of the livestock on both schools came into question. The government was willing to pay full market value for animals, but after the government veterinarian inspected the beasts, he found most of them “tubercular”.

Maybe this would be a red flag for any right thinking person but the Department was only concerned that they not pay for the infected cattle. What about the students and staff and their consumption of infected milk?

The exact number of children who died of TB at residential schools is unknown, other than being “many”. There is documented proof that isolation of known infected students was not widely practiced either, allowing its spread.

Much was known by 1922 about TB and its transmission, but Indian Affairs Zhar and architect of the modern Residential School system, Duncan Campbell Scott, didn’t inform the neighbourhood clients who purchased the tainted milk from the residential schools, or inform the staff at either school.

Interesting what can be found in the Ottawa Archives if you want to look.

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