The Canadian government conducted unethical nutrition studies on malnourished First Nations children in the 1940s and 50s, research by a food historian at the University of Guelph has revealed.
More than 1,300 aboriginal people—over 1,000 of whom were children—were used as test subjects in these studies, which took place at six of Canada's infamous residential schools for the aboriginal population. Researchers, encountering malnourished aboriginal students, gave some vitamin supplements and others not, all without their knowledge; in some cases, the researchers removed dental care so as not to contaminate the results.
Ian Mosby, who uncovered the studies, says "little good came out of the studies in terms of scientific knowledge," and that they only serve to show "the mentality behind Canada's Indian administration during this period." First Nations leaders have demanded an apology from the Canadian government:
National Chief Shawn Atleo of the Assembly of First Nations said time does not absolve the government of responsibility. "The reason for this malnutrition in the '40s was lack of funding supports for children to have proper food. We still have that problem today," Atleo said from the AFN's annual meeting in Whitehorse.
The chief councillor of the Tseshaht First Nation in Port Alberni, B.C., said he wants an apology from the federal government. "Canada has been sitting on this and hiding this information from the aboriginal people now since it first happened in the '40s and '50s," said Hugh Braker, who added that the band is horrified by the revelations.