A woman from Cambridge Bay, NU has contacted me through my Ghosts of Camsell site looking for help tracking down what happened to her grandfather. She thinks he was sent to the Charles Camsell Indian Hospital for TB treatment:
“He was sent out from Perry River/Island – Cambridge Bay area – in the late 1950’s or early 60’s. My mom said he went on the plane and never came back – she was orphaned, her mother died when she was 9 years old. His name was Joseph Elulik or Illulik. I don’t know how it would have been spelled back in the day. I don’t know what his Eskimo Dog tag number was, and can’t find that out. He would have been possibly late 30’s when he was sent out, or early 40’s.”
This woman, her daughters, and her 72-year-old mother are coming to Edmonton in late June and would like to find his gravesite so they can get some closure. Can you help? He’s not listed on the St. Albert Cemetery cairn and was likely Catholic. Any leads would be much appreciated!
If you’ve never heard of Indian hospitals, you’re not the only one. This is one particular dark issue in Canada’s past that isn’t often spoken about, even though the story comes right into St. Albert’s backyard.
The issue is so little-known, in fact, that Edmonton historian Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail had never heard of them until she came upon references to X-Ray Tours while researching a book in Canada’s northern territories – and she has a masters degree in history focusing on contact relations.
“I thought I was pretty up to speed on things like residential schools, missionaries, treaties and things, but I had never heard of Indian hospitals up to that point,” she said.
If you’d like to read the whole article in the St. Albert Gazette by Doug Neuman, please click here.
The Edmonton Examiner was also kind enough to feature the story in its latest issue and let people know about an upcoming Camsell memories recording session on May 19th. If you’re in the city and would like more details, please click here!
The blog series is done for now, but the search for answers will continue for a long time, I’m sure. In the meantime, I have been talking on the radio about the project and my partner on this project, Nicole Beart of Memory Catcher, has completed a video trailer.
Also, on Tuesday, May 19th from 5-8pm at the Stanley Milner Library, we’ll be recording any and all memories connected to the Camsell Hospital throughout its long history. Were you born there or treated there? Did you work there? Did you perhaps go ghost-hunting there after it was closed (yes, you can stay anonymous!)? What stories do you have that you’d like to share?
My partner in this is David Rauch of In Your Own Words and we’ll be happy to guide you through the process of your 10-minute recording time slot!
One of the most interesting – and heartbreaking – parts of the research for my last book were the X-ray tours, evacuations, and treatments of northern indigenous people in the Charles Camsell Indian Hospital in Edmonton. I could only cover it briefly in the book, but vowed I would spend more time investigating this era, the people and policies involved, and the history right in my own backyard.
Through a grant by the Edmonton City as Museum Project, I have been able to delve into this a little more, and for the next couple of weeks I will be posting daily on my discoveries – and self-discoveries.
Hopefully this will be just another brick in my research into the Camsell and the people who moved through it.
I hope you will check it out and let me know your thoughts, or maybe even share a story or photo. www.ghostsofcamsell.ca