Back In 1907, the Chief Medical Officer in the Department of Indian Affairs criticized the inhumane and unsanitary conditions of residential schools.
His great-grandson’s documentary tells the story of how almost 110 years ago, Peter Bryce made the connection between conditions in residential schools and tuberculosis.
Finding Heart is the story of the efforts of Peter Bryce.
In 1907, as the chief medical officer for the department of Indian Affairs, he wrote a report detailing the inhuman and unsanitary conditions of residential schools.
His great-grandson, Andy Bryce, is the co-producer.
“My great-grandfather was the chief medical officer at the Department of Indian Affairs in 1907.
He discovered significant health abuses in residential schools.
In fact, he found out that there was a tuberculosis rate of about 24 percent among all residential schools.”
These Royal Oak Middle School students watching the documentary are the same age as many of the First Nations children forced to attend residential schools, and they contributed to the film.
For decades, the federal government forcibly removed more than 150,000 Metis and First Nations children from their families and culture.
Despite his criticism of the system, and recommendations to improve the system, bureaucrats ignored Bryce’s report.
“Basically, he was seen as a troublemaker, he was seen as someone who had contrary opinions.
And I think after the residential school issue, his reputation sort of died out.
I don’t think he was ever really recognized for his contributions to the country.
“I feel sad because children were taken away from their homes and put into an institute where they had no idea what was going on.
And they had no family there, and they probably felt very sad.”
The documentary, produced in partnership with the National Center for Truth and Reconciliaton, will be shown at a number of schools in British Columbia.