Tuesday, March 28, 5:00 – 6:30 PM, Buchanan Tower 1112
Adjunct Professor of Indigenous Studies, University of Manitoba, and Professor Emeritus, University of British Columbia
A Deep Breath: Inuit tuberculosis, historical geography, technology, and the political economy of social change
Commencing in 1945, the Canadian government dealt with what it had known for years: that Inuit living in the Canadian Arctic were suffering from a serious epidemic of tuberculosis. In 1953, the death rate from TB for Canadians living in the south was 9.9/100,000. The rate for Inuit was an astounding 298.1/100,000. The treatment of Inuit TB involved their removal from the Arctic to southern sanatoriums for treatment. The result for Inuit was considerable suffering, not only physical, but social, cultural and mental. In 2019, the federal government apologized for what Inuit endured as a result of the government’s management of the epidemic. The history of treating Inuit TB is a tangled web; the intersection of historical geography, changes in medical and related technologies, and the political economy of a liberal welfare state, poorly understood by most Canadians.