If you are visiting this website, then you are probably looking for answers regarding a lost loved one. Back in 1946, the Charles Camsell Indian Hospital started taking in tuberculosis patients from all over western and northern Canada (1). Sometimes people passed away in the hospital, and families were too far away to bury them. Sometimes people were never heard from again (2). It was yet another dark chapter in Canadian colonial history.
My name is Melissa Cardinal-Grant, and I am a Metis woman from Edmonton, Alberta. My family is from Kikino, Alberta. I was born at the Charles Camsell Hospital. For my master’s degree project, I wanted to create something that would help the families of Indian hospital patients. There are many families out there, especially Inuit families, whose loved one was taken away to an Indian hospital, never to be seen again. This has caused a lot of pain, sadness, and anger. It has also caused many people to be fearful or mistrusting of the Canadian health care system.
This short website is meant to be used as a guide. If you are wondering what happened to a loved one who was taken away during the mid-1900s, figuring out where to start can be extremely hard. The next section briefly talks about the history of tuberculosis, Indian hospitals, and the Camsell. In the third section, there is a detailed guide on how to begin searching for information about where a loved one went and what happened to them.
It is possible to start this process from home, or wherever you have an internet connection! You don’t have to spend hours on the phone trying to find help or spend money on hiring a researcher.
I recognize that even reading this can cause painful memories for people. If this happens, you don’t have to continue the search. Take a break and maybe talk to someone you care about. If it is more serious, call the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.
It is with the utmost hope in my heart that this website helps you. Maybe you are looking for a mother, an uncle, or a child. Maybe you just want to learn more about what happened. Whoever you are, we are with you. May this be a step in the right direction towards reconciliation.
(1) Charles Camsell Hospital. Description of fonds content. Charles Camsell Hospital fonds (PR0383). Edmonton: Provincial Archives of Alberta; 1997.
(2) Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. Inuit-specific tuberculosis strategy. Ottawa: 2013.