UWinnipeg historians lead Manitoba Indigenous TB Photo Project

'Men's ward, unidentified patients and staff, unidentified Manitoba sanatarium

Men’s ward, unidentified patients and staff, unidentified Manitoba sanatorium (Photo credit: Sanatorium Board of Manitoba ).

Two UWinnipeg historians are leading a project featuring previously unseen historical photos of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit patients and staff at Manitoba tuberculosis (TB) hospitals, with the goal of making images accessible to former patients.

The Manitoba Indigenous Tuberculosis Photo Project (MITPP) is a collaborative, community-based project led by UWinnipeg post-doc, Dr. Erin Millions, and history professor, Dr. Mary Jane McCallum, a member of the Munsee Delaware Nation.

During the National Gathering of Elders in Winnipeg on September 9-11, 2019, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) will be working with the MITPP on a photographic exhibit as a service to Survivors of Residential Schools and Manitoba Tuberculosis Sanatoriums and Hospitals.

The Residential Schools and Manitoba TB Sanatoriums Photo Exhibit is a three-day exhibit , taking place 8:00 am to 6:00 pm daily, Monday, September 9 to Wednesday, September 11,  in the Kildonan Room in the Delta Hotel, at 350 St. Mary Ave, in downtown Winnipeg. The exhibit and welcoming space will be open to the Elders at the National Elders Gathering, as well as the general public.

This event is an opportunity to learn about historical research on First Nations, Métis, and Inuit TB experiences, share recollections about photos and identify individuals.

“The photos from tuberculosis hospitals that we are sharing through this project have been held in private collections, and have never been released to the public” said Millions. ” The people and places in the photos are generally not identified, so we hope that by sharing these photos we can both learn more about Indigenous histories of TB in Manitoba, and repatriate copies of the photos to ex-patients, their descendants, and their communities.”

Photos will also be posted on social media, to identify unnamed First Nations, Inuit, and Métis individuals in photographs; encourage participants to share knowledge about Indigenous histories of TB in Manitoba; preserve and digitize currently unarchived photos; provide copies of photos to survivors, descendants, and communities on request; and to educate communities, health care professionals, and the general public about the history of Indigenous TB in Manitoba.

The NCTR and MITPP will be making available photos from Residential Schools and Manitoba Tuberculosis Sanatoriums and Hospitals allowing Survivors, inter-generational Survivors, family and community members to view and possibly identify themselves and other individuals in the photographs as part of their healing journey. Staff from the NCTR, Archives of Manitoba (including the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives), and MITPP will be available to aid with finding photographs and if requested, making copies for Survivors.

Ry Moran, director of the NCTR, explains: “The National Elders Gathering is a great opportunity for the NCTR to provide a significant service for Survivors. The photo room gives Survivors the opportunity to view photos of themselves and their classmates they may have never seen before. We are excited to provide this service and engage with Elders from across the country.”

In addition, NCTR archive staff will be available to receive archival donations and Survivor statements to be added to the NCTR archives at the request of Survivors. To facilitate the statement gathering, a private and secure area as well as health supports will be available. Survivors’ statements can be taken via video, audio, or in written form. Also, staff will be available to aid Survivors, inter-generational Survivors, family and community members with filling out information requests for records held by the Archives of Manitoba and the NCTR. This is similar to what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission provided during previous National Gatherings.

The unique experience at this photo exhibit for Survivors will be the introduction to the Manitoba Indian Tuberculosis Photo Project (MITPP). MITPP distributes and repatriates previously unseen archival photographs of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis tuberculosis patients and staff in mid-twentieth century Manitoba ‘Indian’ sanatoriums and hospitals. They are mandated to have the unnamed Indigenous patients and staff identified in the photos, establish collaborative knowledge-sharing relationships with communities and disseminate Indigenous histories of tuberculosis in Manitoba to the general public. The MITPP facilitates access to these archival images for Survivors, inter-generational Survivors, their families, and communities through a social media campaign and community-based workshops.

Staff from the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives’ Names and Knowledge Initiative will also have photographs available from communities across Canada.  The Names and Knowledge Initiative is dedicated to increasing access to and identification of Indigenous people in the photograph collections.  

Drs. Erin Millions and Mary Jane McCallum from MITPP at the University of Winnipeg are inviting community members to share their recollections about the photos and identify individuals in the images in this private and welcoming space. Community members can also connect with the project digitally on Instagram (@TBPhotoProject), Twitter (@TBPhotoProject), and Facebook (@TBPhotoProject).

Partners on this project are the NCTR, MITPP, The University of Winnipeg, and the Sanatorium Board of Manitoba.

The MITPP is conducted in partnership with the Sanatorium Board of Manitoba, in collaboration with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, and with the approvals of the Health Information Research Governance Committee of the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba and the Human Research Ethics Board of the University of Manitoba. The MITPP is funded by the University of Winnipeg Research Office and the Sanatorium Board of Manitoba.


Jennifer Cox, Communications Officer, The University of Winnipeg
T: 204.988.7671 E: j.cox@uwinnipeg.ca

Lee-Anne Van Buekenhout, Communications Officer, National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
T: 204.474.6959 E: lee-anne.VanBuekenhout@umanitoba.ca 

1 Comment

  • Freda Lepine said...

    My mother was in NINETTE and St.Vital, I still have her records and letters she wrote from there in 1932-33