Peter Henderson Bryce: A Man of Conscience

As medical health officer for the Department of Indian Affairs, Bryce had found that large numbers of First Nations children were dying each year due to conditions in Residential Schools and lack of tuberculosis treatment from 1904 to 1921.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission estimates that at least more than 6,000 children died in the schools from preventable disease, abuse, and neglect. There may be more, but it would be impossible to try to estimate how many at this point.

“Whistleblowers” from all walks of life called on Canada to help the children. The Federal Government and many Canadians chose not to listen, or to do the bare minimum, with tragic results. Many would have been saved had the Government listened to Dr. Bryce or if the public had become significantly outraged had they pressed the Government to change the system and to stop the abuses. Unfortunately, the last school only closed in the North in 1997.