Report: Historic Healing Journey of Inuit TB Sanatorium Survivors

In cooperation with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., SeeChange brought a group of Inuit TB sanatorium survivors and youths to Hamilton, Ontario in July, where more than 1,200 Inuit were treated for tuberculosis in the 1950s and 60s, often suffering from abuse and isolation. The goal of the historic trip was two-fold: to bring healing and closure to survivors and to educate younger Inuit and the Canadian public about this little-known chapter of Indigenous history.

Written by
Published on
Jan 9, 2024
Sep 11, 2023

Participants visited the site of the former sanatorium in Hamilton and a cemetery where Inuit who died of TB were buried and looked at historic photos and artworks made by Inuit patients at the Art Gallery of Hamilton.

Healing circles helped Elders find closure, while workshops fostered inter-generational dialogue and supported learning about TB. "I feel release. I cannot describe it. Now I feel like singing," said one of the survivors at the end of the trip.

Healing circles helped survivors find closure

The visit drew widespread public attention to the intergenerational trauma the TB sanatoriums caused, as well as to the ongoing TB crisis among Indigenous communities in the North – both through a sold-out public event at the Art Gallery of Hamilton (view a recording here), and extensive media coverage.

It also led to concrete action. McMaster University’s Health Sciences Archives decided to hand over copies of their historic photo collection to the community. The Mayor of Hamilton promised that the city would be adding the Inuktitut translation on the street signs for Sanatorium Drive and a plaque at the site of the former sanatorium to commemorate the history of Inuit TB patients.

Read our report

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