Observations Made: “Just An Indian”

Photograph of a native drum




Veteran Jim Bramhill (Reg. No. 17848) submitted a story which he entitled “Just An Indian.”






In 1991, some of you may recall watching the TV movie Conspiracy of Silence”  about the rape and murder of a native school girl, Helen Betty Osborne, by four joyriding teenage males in a small town in Manitoba.  Over the next 16 years, this case proved to be very difficult for the investigators because no one in the town wanted to supply any information, even though some knew who the culprits were. Investigators did learn that the reason for the silence was because the victim wasjust an Indian“.

I personally encountered a similar attitude before that event occurred.  On a very cold winter morning when I was N.C.O. i/c of the new detachment of Spruce Grove, Alberta, I responded to a report of an older native man huddled in a snow bank.  I learned that he had settled there for the night  after coming out of the local bar too intoxicated for the bus driver to let him on board. Rather than just drive him back to the reserve, I  took him for a check-up at the medical clinic in the nearby town of Stony Plain.  His hands were not frozen, but that was probably because he had worn gloves and his hands had been tucked under his armpits. 

When we arrived at the clinic, I informed the doctor that the elderly gentleman had been out all night in the freezing cold.  As instructed by the doctor, he took his boots off and walked into the examination room.  Very soon thereafter he came out and started to put his boots back on with much difficulty, so I went over to help him.  No wonder he was having difficulty his feet were frozen hard like cement!

After a re-examination by an embarrassed doctor, the patient was taken to the hospital where he had one foot amputated.

On leaving the clinic I felt annoyed that the unfortunate native had not been thoroughly examined in the first instance, but could I expect otherwise?   No, because he was just an Indian! 

Five days ago, an absolutely shocking story appeared in the Canadian media and it has been included below:

Hungry Canadian aboriginal children were used in government experiments during 1940s, researcher says New historical research says hungry aboriginal children and adults were once used as unwitting subjects in nutritional experiments by the Canadian government. – Aboriginal children were deliberately starved in the 1940s and ’50s by government researchers in the name of science.

Milk rations were halved for years at residential schools across the country.

Essential vitamins were kept from people who needed them.   Dental services were withheld because gum health was a measuring tool for scientists and dental care would distort research.  Read more

With the recognition of Canada being one of the best countries to live in, we cannot  be proud of how our First Nations people have been treated.  Clearly, what is needed is positive changes to create a nation where all citizens are treated equally and with respect.

Photograph of First Nation's Totem poles in Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.)

Photograph of First Nation’s Totem poles in Stanley Park (Vancouver, B.C.)