Medicare and Medicine Chests: Indian Hospitals and the Construction of National Health in Postwar Canada
Two enduring narratives mark the history of health care in Canada in the decades after 1945. Better known is Medicare: often told as a celebrated and progressive story of the path from a hardscrabble provincial plan to the definition of national health that improved health care for Canadians. The other, by contrast, chronicles the continued and continuing health disparities in many, though not all, Aboriginal communities and the seeming intractability of ill-health. I discuss how these contradictory and competing narratives emerged through an analysis of racially segregated hospital care that served the interests of non-Indigenous Canadians, and how Medicare, not the medicine chest, came to define health policy for First Nations people. I explore how it became normal and natural for Canadians to see these intertwined narratives as separate and distinct by examining Indian Health Services and its Indian Hospitals.
Learn more about the Shannon Lectures in History.