Tuberculosis at Duck Lake/St. Michael's Residential School


In 1910, a local Indian Agent noted, "about one-half of the children sent to Duck Lake Boarding School, die before the age 18, or very shortly afterwards." The Indian Agent remarked, "[the students] are kept in a building whose every seam and crevice is, doubtless, burdened with Tuberculosis." In response to this outbreak of Tuberculosis, the One Arrow and Beardy bands requested their children be sent to day schools. The Department of Indian Affairs refused these requests and asked an Inspector to open an investigation into the matter. The Inspector recommended that incoming children should be be screened for health problems more thoroughly, that more windows be installed and walls replastered, that improvements be made to the basement, and that the water system be changed. The water system was changed, and in 1924 a new school was built.

The condition of the building indicated that poor construction and lack of attention to structural details contributed to the spread of illness such as tuberculosis in this particular school, although insufficient building quality was an endemic problem within residential and industrial schools constructed for education of Indigenous children. While recommendations were made to improve the construction of the school, and the health of children was said to be of concern, often times little changes were made for the lives of Residential School students, whether due to lack of financial aid or genuine concern.