Peter Henderson Bryce was a medical doctor, civil servant and public health expert. In 1907, after surveying 35 residential schools, he submitted a report to the Department of Indian Affairs detailing clear connections between Residential Schools, tuberculosis and high student mortality rates. His recommendations fell on deaf ears and would not be revealed publicly until he was forced to retire. Fifteen years after his initial report, he published an 18-page “appeal for justice”—a pamphlet containing his findings and recommendations, and condemning the government’s lack of action to address illness and death in the Residential School System and First Nation communities. Indigenous peoples continued to experience disproportionate impacts of tuberculosis for years to come. Eventual federal intervention involved a confusing web of enforced medical care leaving Survivors and patients’ families to seek answers and closure.

This is The Story of a National Crime, new podcast from Knockabout Media, coming this fall.

Sick People Need More Than Pills The Story of a National Crime

2022 marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of The Story of a National Crime. It was written by Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce. It was an eighteen-page pamphlet containing evidence of neglect, negligence and harm to First Nations children and their communities. From 1904 to 1913, Bryce was the medical inspector for the Department of the Interior and Indian Affairs. It was not the first time he had spoken out. This pamphlet was his appeal for justice and his condemnation of federal inaction. In this series, we look at the practices, policies, and official correspondence to reveal the intentional actions and acts of indifference that contributed to poor health and lethal outcomes. There will be examples of people who pushed back – the whistleblowers – the parents, the Indigenous communities, the bureaucrats, and members of the clergy. The experts interviewed highlight how archival documents only reveal part of the history and that numerous questions remain.Content Warning: This series talks about Indian Residential Schools, medical racism, segregated health care, and missing patients.If you are a Residential School Survivor or Intergenerational Survivor, you can access support through the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419. Mental health and crisis support is also available through Hope 4 Wellness at 1-855-242-3310.Credits:Written/Produced by Maia-Foster SanchezCo-Producer: Ryan BarnettAdditional Voices: Gabriel MaracleOur series advisors are Teresa Edwards, Kaila Johnston, and Erin Millions.Artwork by Caleb Ellison-DysartA Knockabout Media Production | Funded by the Government of Canada Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
  1. Sick People Need More Than Pills
  3. The Story of a National Crime – Trailer