Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo and other aboriginal leaders are outraged at reports that the Canadian government experimented on aboriginal children around World War II.

Outrage Over News That Starving Children Were Studied Like Lab Rats


First Nations leaders are expressing their outrage at revelations earlier this week that the Canadian government used starving aboriginal children as lab rats to study nutrition.

“This report has sent a shockwave through First Nations in Canada and should be no less shocking to all Canadians and beyond,” said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo in a statement. “The reports of these studies, in which more than a thousand indigenous children were denied essential nutrition and in some cases deliberately starved, were reported as far back as 2000 but did not gain national attention. Sadly, I have a deeply personal connection as my home community of Ahousaht was one of the communities that had these studies imposed on them unknowingly. My elders and family members were exposed to this cruel and inhumane treatment where our children were treated like lab rats.”

Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee called it outright colonialism and said little has changed in the decades since World War II.

“When the story first broke about Canada being involved with experiments on First Nation children, it was no surprise to me,” Madahbee said in a statement. “What would be more surprising is if the mass‐ media paid attention and attempted to educate the public on the inhuman actions by its government that is happening right now.”

The report, in which food historian Ian Mosby discovered that more than 1,000 already-starving aboriginal children in residential schools and remote communities, surfaced on Tuesday July 16 in an interview he did with CBC Radio’s As It Happens.

Related: Canadian Govt. Watched Kids Starve Like Lab Rats for 'Science'

The revelations came right in the middle of the Assembly of First Nations Annual General Assembly being held in Whitehorse, Yukon. The attending chiefs immediately introduced an emergency resolution “calling for swift action and redress,” Madahbee said. “The government must release all information on this matter without delay. We are mindful that this same government is withholding documents from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and in our own discrimination complaint before the Human Rights Tribunal on First Nations child welfare. This shameful delay must end. Action is required that is consistent with the Prime Minister’s apology for the residential schools that committed the Government of Canada to work towards healing and reconciliation. It is time to honour that promise.

Madahbee also called on mainstream Canadians to step up: “And we must say to everyone: Canada, this is your history. We must confront the ugly truths and move forward together.”

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ppmickey's picture
Submitted by ppmickey on
OMG. Having been a teacher and then working as a parent educator for a county Children Services agency, I find this outrageous. Canada needs to come clean and make a full disclosure of who was starved, when , where, for how long and how dare they use Native children? Why not white children or mixed raced children? As if the Natives in all of North America haven't been treated bad enough and were earlier in history considered vermin to be executed on site, including men, women and children, this will need a long time for healing if it ever takes place. How do these children feel now? My mother was born to a very poor family and sometimes only had a plate of dry Corn Flakes to eat for the entire day. She knew what being hungry felt like as a child. I don't know her ethnicity completely. I never knew she'd been orphaned and adopted as a child until two days before she died when she wanted my brother and I to know her full life story. She had sworn an oath to never tell she was adopted but couldn't go home to the Lord without us knowing her story. These children need to tell their stories before it is forgotten. Videotapes of how they felt and how they were singled out should be of paramount importance to keep this from ever happening to a child again. Why couldn't they have studied the effects on children in foreign countries where children die every day from hunger? Children of all races in Canada and the USA still go to bed at night hungry. Both countries need to do more to fight hunger at home. The USA is doing more now than it ever has before with lunch programs that are carried into the summer, but not in all places. We need to improve nutrition at schools as well. Kids and teachers are getting fat on food served in cafeterias in schools all over America, but some children still go to bed hungry each night and stay hungry all weekend unless they have friends they can stay with. To single Native children out, however...shame on you Canada, shame on you. You are our neighbor and allies. We expect more out of you, especially when it comes to your children. Whoever authorized this study needs to be looking for another job far away from children of any race, but especially the Native populations. OMG this makes me sick and angry.