Category Archives: Youth

Demand the Truth about Experiments on Aboriginal children

RESIDENTIAL-SCHOOLS-large570by Carrie Lester
In July, old news became new again. The commercial media published stories about medical and nutrition experiments conducted in Canada’s Indian Residential Schools during the 1940’s and 1950’s.
Why call it ‘old’ news? Because an article on this topic appeared in the Vancouver Sun in 2000 ( In fact, along with the research that Dr. Peter Bryce, Chief Medical Officer of Canada, conducted in the early 1900’s about the condition of children in the ‘schools’, as directed by Duncan Campbell Scott, Canada’s Superintendant of Indian and Affairs, these results were printed in The Ottawa Citizen in November 1907, ( only to be promptly buried and forgotten, causing hardly a ripple. It seems that the only person who took much notice of Dr. Bryce’s research, that the death rates in the Western ‘schools’ ran between 30 and 60 per cent, was D.C. Scott himself, and he was not pleased. By 1913, Dr. Bryce’s services were no longer required.
Information about these experiments was also reported in a 2006 documentary on Canada’s Indian Residential Schools titled “Unrepentant: Kevin Annett and Canada’s Genocide”. The United Church de-frocked minister Annett when he blew the whistle on Church abuses of survivors and victims of British Columbia’s Indian Residential Schools on Vancouver Island, and illegal land sales conducted by that church to a logging company.
This ‘old-new’ story was contained in the report published by one Ian Mosby, a post-doctorate fellow of Guelph University in Ontario, written in his capacity as a food historian. It provided information about the treatment of the health of Native populations, and of Indigenous children in Residential Schools across the country. Mosby found it in an article he came across in May 2000, in the Anglican Journal — the same piece found by the Vancouver Sun, and by Kevin Annett, back in 2000.
Digging deeper, Mosby found government documents that revealed an experiment conducted on some 1,300 indigenous people, most of whom were children, beginning in northern Manitoba in 1942, and eventually spanning the country through the early 1950’s. The experiments targetted First Nations people, it seems, because rampant malnourishment prevailed in most of their isolated and poverty ravaged communities. Indigenous peoples were forced to live on ‘Reserve land’ and be ‘assimilated’, ‘civilized’ and ‘educated’ within the confines of church and state policy. After the collapse of the fur trade, they proved to be ‘ideal’ test subjects for different diet regimens. Some children were given vitamin enriched diets. Others were denied vitamins. Still others were limited in their intake of milk rations. In terms of milk consumption, doctors knew that tuberculosis could be contracted through non-pasteurized milk, but many schools still served it to children.
The medical experimentation consisted of depriving children of dental care, since the health of one’s gums is a health indicator, and the treatment of gum disease could have skewed experiment results. Ironically, an “Indian person” could not refuse medical treatment, according to Canada’s Indian Act.
The response of some prominent Canadians and Native people to this ‘news’ is shock and surprise. The Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo expressed awareness of the situation: his father had gone to the school in Port Alberni, B.C. But he said he did not realize that a government experiment had taken place. The Aboriginal Affairs critic for the Official Opposition New Democratic Party, Jean Crowder, spoke about the life of poverty that still dominates First Nations’ communities, and how poor nutrition remains an issue.
I was dismayed, but not surprised by Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) into Indian Residential Schools. On his Facebook page, Sinclair expressed shock and surprise. However, subsequent media coverage reported that he was not surprised by the news of the experiments because of revelations at the TRC Hearings, now in the final year of its five year mandate to collect data and listen to survivors.
Murray Sinclair has disappointed me on other occasions, including when, during an interview with CBC’s news anchor Peter Mansbridge, Sinclair stated he was most surprised that children actually died in these ‘schools’.
On another occasion, Sinclair had the audacity to apologize publicly to the Catholic Church on behalf of the TRC, and on behalf of his head researcher, John Milloy, (who was also a researcher on the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples), for pushing the Catholic Church too hard to fully open ALL of their archived documents … which they refused to do … and still refuse to do. John Milloy also apologized to the church. He subsequently resigned from the TRC. By the way, the Canadian Government is also withholding archival materials, and has acknowledged that it destroyed documents on at least three occasions, allegedly to make space for more important stuff.
Canada’s current Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister, Bernard Valcourt wonders aloud whether this story is true — but if it is, it is “abhorrent and completely unacceptable”.
In a July 17, 2013 article in The Globe and Mail, Shawn Atleo states: “We’re going to call on the Prime Minister to give effect to the words that he spoke when he said: ‘The burden of this experience has been on your shoulders for far too long. The burden is properly ours as a government.’” This refers to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s 2008 official apology for residential schools.
On July 25, after a call-out for action went viral, protests took place across the country on the theme “Honour the Apology”. We’ll see where this ‘old – new’ story takes us. Harper’s Conservative government pledges to follow a court order to hand over ‘relevant’ documents to the TRC. But who knows when that will happen?
Carrie Lester is a Native rights, environmental activist of mixed Mohawk / Bearfoot Onondaga / UK-Canadian-settler heritage, and is a member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, based in Toronto.

Public Forum – DISARM THE COPS!


Youth for Socialist Action

presents a public forum –


The July 27 police killing of 18-year old Sammy Yatim, another in a long string of unarmed victims shot to death by Toronto cops, raises questions: What is the root cause of these murders, often of immigrant, working class, and visible minority youths? Should street patrol cops be disarmed? Can police in capitalist society ever be held accountable to the majority? Whose interests are served by the cops, the courts, the military and the entire capitalist state apparatus? What should youths, racialized minorities and working people do about this? Join us for a panel of speakers, followed by an open discussion.


Tyler Mackinnon, YSA chairperson, Ryerson U. student, recently returned from Greece where he visited a ‘cops-free’ neighborhood in central Athens.

Ben Rostoker, YSA secretary-treasurer and U of Toronto student activist.

Wangui Kimari is an organizer with the Network for Pan-African Solidarity and the Network for the Elimination of Police Violence.

An open Q & A, and discussion period will follow the presentations.

Thursday, August 29 7 p.m.

OISE, 252 Bloor St. West, Room 2-211

(above the St. George Subway Station)

Everyone is welcome. $2 donation requested, or PWYC.

This event is endorsed by Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste. For more information,


visit the SA web site at:

or call   647-986-1917  or 416-461-6942

Photo (the featured picture): Tony Smith /

Public Forum: Turkey in Revolt

Toronto Socialist Action presents a public forum:
Turkey in Revolt

Special guest speaker, live from Istanbul, Turkey (via skype): Yasin Kaya
a Turkish immigrant and leading member of Socialist Action-Canada, Youth for Socialist Action, a member of CUPE Local 3903, delegate to Toronto
and York Region Labour Council, and a PhD candidate in political science at York University.

An open Q & A, and discussion period will follow the presentation.

Friday, June 14 @ 6 p.m.

OISE, 252 Bloor St. West, Room 2-214
(above the St. George Subway Station)
Everyone is welcome. $4 donation requested, or PWYC.

For more information, e-mail: visit the SA web site at:
or call 647-728-9143 or 416-461-6942

The authoritarian, pro-imperialist regime of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is facing its biggest crisis in a over a decade. The popular uprising for democracy, secularism, urban green space, and social justice has gone from street battles of students against repressive cops to a workers’ general strike. What’s next? Is this the beginning of a Turkish Spring, a step towards a social revolution?


Film Screenings at York University

On November 5, 2012 at York University, Socialist Action screened three documentaries about the rise of students and youths around the world in action against the corporate agenda.

The films screening were followed by a discussion moderated by Y. Fikret Kayali, a PhD student at York University and member of Socialist Action.



Montreal march: A celebration that demands more!

by Barry Weisleder
About two thousand people braved persistent rainfall and cool temperatures on September 22 to celebrate the recent partial victory of the Quebec students’ movement. They rallied at Parc Lafontaine and marched through the streets of downtown Montreal, flanked by riot police armed with shields, truncheons and rifles. The cops arrested two people for ‘launching projectiles’, and used pepper spray on some demonstrators.
Speakers at the opening rally, organized by the largest students’ federation, CLASSE, emphasized that the struggle for free post-secondary education continues. This was in the wake of the Parti Quebecois minority government decision to annul the five-year 75 per cent fee hike imposed by the Jean Charest Liberal Party regime defeated in the September 4 provincial election. Premier-elect Pauline Marois said her government would substitute inflation-indexed fee increases – counter to the demand to eliminate fees.
The PQ voted in Cabinet to rescind Law 12, with its heavy fines for demonstrations without police permission, for picketing near colleges and universities, and its threats to decertify students’ unions that fail to comply.
Sadly, two student federations did not endorse the September 22 demonstration. Union banners were scarce too. But Professors Against the Hikes, along with several civil rights, feminist, environmentalist and political organizations were highly visible. They were joined by a troupe of drummers who enlivened the somewhat soggy procession.
Seven members of Toronto Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste travelled to Montreal to participate in the action. They distributed hundreds of leaflets in French urging a continuation of the campaign for free education. Socialists also demand that charges be dropped against the over 3,000 people arrested in the Spring and Summer student protests. The LAS stresses the need to mobilize against the bosses’ agenda at all levels. This was clearly expressed on its bright yellow banner bearing the slogan “A bas l’austerite capitaliste. Pouvoir aux travailleurs / travailleuses !” (Down with capitalist austerity. Power to the workers!)
The LAS held a public forum, conducted mostly in French, on the Saturday evening. A number of Quebecois activists attended and signed up to learn more about the Pan-Canadian revolutionary organization.
The PQ moved quickly in its first days in office to announce the closure of Quebec’s only nuclear power facility, to end shale gas development, to cancel a loan to reopen the province’s last asbestos mine, and to remove a health care premium. But the PQ budget, expected in early 2013, will show how the bourgeois nationalist government actually chooses to relate to the interests of students and workers. Pundits predict major cuts to social expenditures, and more subsidies to business. Thus the struggle for a just, equal, democratic and sovereign Quebec continues.