Nobody Here Will Harm You: Mass Medical Evacuation from the Eastern Arctic, 1950–1965
280 pages | ISBN 978-1-928088-09-7
“Perhaps you are wondering why you are brought down from your home leaving your friends and perhaps family behind. The reason is that you are sick, and if you were left at home, you may endanger those at home. So you are here to get well again… But do not be afraid. Nobody here will harm you.”– Mountain Views, Hamilton Sanatorium, 1955
With this quote Shawn Selway begins his thorough investigation of the evacuation of 1,274 Inuit and Cree sufferers of tuberculosis from the Eastern Arctic to Mountain Sanatorium in Hamilton, Ontario, from 1950 to 1965. Selway considers not only the political culture, and the systemic racism within that culture, in which the decisions were made, but also the technological and economic changes that made these relocations possible. Selway carefully documents the impact of the evacuations on the Inuit community and has included an assortment of archival images within the book. This is an important look at a difficult time in our country’s history.
“For reconciliation to truly take place in this country, Canadians must come to terms with our twentieth-century colonial legacy. Shawn Selway’s book is a powerful step along the way. He unpacks the colonial mindset in the medical, bureaucratic and cultural views that led to the mass evacuation of Inuit people to southern tuberculosis sanatoriums in the 1950s. This book is nuanced, thoughtful and extremely well-researched. In reading this history I reflect on how the colonial constructs are still very much in place in terms of northern health and service delivery. Nobody Here Will Harm You is a powerful teaching tool in helping us rethink the relationship with Canada’s northern peoples.” – Charlie Angus, author of Children of the Broken Treaty
“This exhaustively researched, yet immensely readable, account of a forgotten time in Canadian medical history should be compulsory reading. Shawn Selway takes us on a shipboard journey from the far northern communities of the Arctic and Subarctic in the 1940s and 1950s south to Hamilton’s Mountain Sanatorium. The ships’ captains and crew, the doctors, nurses, social workers and politicians all inhabit roles in the story, from well-intentioned meddlers to compassionate heroes to self-interested authority figures. In counterpoint to them all are the voices of the Inuit who clearly and poignantly recount events from their perspective.” – Susan Evans Shaw, author of Canadians at War
Carson's Bookshelf: Nobody Here Will Harm You (Carson, Midwest Book Review, 17/08/2017)
"Nobody Here Will Harm You is a unique and informative contribution to community and academic library Canadian history collections in general, and Aboriginal Canadian supplemental studies reading lists in particular".
Books: Nobody Here Will Harm You: Mass Medical Evacuation from the Eastern Arctic, 1950–1965 (Joanna DeCosse, Canada's History, Summer 2017 Issue)
"His thoughtful yet accessible study, peppered with visual and textual references to archival research and records, will capture the attention of readers who are interested by this lesser-known but significant episode in Canadan history."
Shelf Life (Jessica Rose, Hamilton Magazine, Spring 2017 Issue)
"This rarely explored part of Hamilton's history is the subject of historian Shawn Selway's book, Nobody Here Will Harm You, in which he considers the systemic racism and political culture behind the decision to relocate Indigenous patients and the legacy that was left behind."
"Telling the story of hundreds of Inuit, sick with TB, who were shipped to Hamilton" (Kelly Bennett, CBC Hamilton, 11/09/2016)
"Everyone can imagine that being brought thousands of miles away from home and family and having to remain in another world for perhaps two years would be very hard to bear."
About the Author
Shawn Selway's writing has appeared in literary journals and on a local civic affairs blog in Hamilton, Ontario, where he lives. He is a millwright by trade and operates a consultancy in the conservation of historic machinery. He is interested in the relation between technical and political solutions.
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