Careless Care: Considering “Indian Hospitals” and Residential Schools

April Vannini

Sounder News

Tuesday, November 14 2017

Over the last decade, Canadians have come to learn about the terrible consequences of Canada’s Residential School system. Significantly fewer people, however, have the same knowledge about the horrific history of segregation in Canada’s Health Care system. 

As part of the ongoing From Truth to Reconciliation Speakers Series, the community is invited to learn about the history of First Nations relations with Canada’s Health Care system and, more specifically, the federally funded institutions that were known as “Indian Hospitals”. 

Dr. Laurie Meijer Drees and Dr. Laura Cranmer will deliver their presentation—“Considering ‘Indian Hospitals’ and Residential Schools in Canada”—on November 24th from 7 pm to 9 pm at the Surf Lodge. Meijer and Cranmer will share their knowledge and personal experiences regarding Indian hospitals in Canada at large, and will specifically discuss the Nanaimo Indian Hospital. 

Dr. Laurie Meijer Drees is a professor in the Department of First Nations Studies at Vancouver Island University. Dr. Meijer Drees is the author of the book Healing Histories: Stories from Canada’s ‘Indian’ Hospitals (2013). She has held faculty positions at First Nations University of Canada, the University of Saskatchewan, and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. A researcher for Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a member of Notakwew Ahtyokan (Women’s Teaching Lodge) at Batoche, Saskatchewan, she actively practices a lifelong passion for research at the intersection of Indigenous oral teachings and academic histories. Dr. Meijer Drees says that, “today, the site of the Nanaimo Indian Hospital is an empty field in central Nanaimo, a location with a spectacular view of the Strait of Georgia and the Gulf Islands. Remnants of the hospital parking lot remain, but the old network of single-storey white clapboard army barracks was demolished in 2004. Gradually, grass, blackberries, and broom are reclaiming the foundations that lie behind a barbed-wire fence on Department of National Defence land.” 

Dr. Laura Cranmer is daughter of David Cranmer (‘Namgis) and Pearl Weir (Haida), and granddaughter of Agnes and Dan Cranmer. To better understand her (and our) colonial history, Dr. Cranmer embarked on a post-secondary journey culminating in a BA in English, MA in Curriculum Studies, and Ph.D. in Language and Literacy Education. A member of the VIU First Nations Studies (FNAT) faculty since 2000, Cranmer has taught in the renowned Arts One First Nations program and many other FNAT courses that explore Indigenous theatre, film, and more recently, Indigenous language revitalization.

These are new times in Canada. The From Truth to Reconciliation committee came together in hope that our community can come together to learn more about our collective Canadian history with First Nations, in order to better understand the path to reconciliation. 

This presentation is generously hosted by The Surf Lodge with advanced ticket registration at North Road Sports. Tickets are $20. Ticket revenue helps to support this and future events costs such as Elder fees, speaker fees, advertising, transportation, lodging, etc. The committee is exploring the idea of a subsidized ticket category for students and for others who find price a barrier to attending the series.

You may contact the From Truth to Reconciliation Committee by calling 250.247.7587 or email: