Nobody Here Will Harm You

Mass Medical Evacuation from the Eastern Arctic, 1950–1965

Book reviewed by Joanne DeCosse

July 27, 2017

Nobody Here Will Harm You investigates the mass medical evacuation of thousands of people from Indigenous communities in the Arctic to southern hospitals and sanatoriums in cities such as Hamilton in the mid-twentieth century.

In the book, millwright and historical machinery consultant Shawn Selway examines the views and actions of doctors, nurses, politicians, and members of Inuit communities in response to the spread of tuberculosis. Notably, he considers their decisions and perspectives within broader socio-political frameworks and within the context of the Canadian colonial project, a long-standing, country-wide undertaking marked by government interventions that included the establishment of residential schools.

While examining this dark chapter of history, Selway grapples with how to address the ongoing legacy of these evacuations. He notes in his introduction that “the anxiety and loneliness occasioned by sudden and prolonged separation reverberated for decades,” prompting readers to consider the impact the past continues to have on the Canadian health care system and on Canada’s relationship with northern Indigenous communities.

His thoughtful yet accessible study, peppered with visual and textual references to archival research and records, will capture the attention of readers who are interested by this lesser-known but significant episode in Canadian history.

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