About the Book
“We can no longer pretend we don’t know about residential schools, murdered and missing Aboriginal women and ‘Indian hospitals.’ The only outstanding question is how we respond.” —Tom Sandborn, Vancouver Sun
A shocking exposé of the dark history and legacy of segregated Indigenous health care in Canada.
After the publication of his critically acclaimed 2011 book Drink the Bitter Root: A Writer’s Search for Justice and Healing in Africa, author Gary Geddes turned the investigative lens on his own country, embarking on a long and difficult journey across Canada to interview Indigenous elders willing to share their experiences of segregated health care, including their treatment in the “Indian hospitals” that existed from coast to coast for over half a century.
The memories recounted by these survivors—from gratuitous drug and surgical experiments to electroshock treatments intended to destroy the memory of sexual abuse—are truly harrowing, and will surely shatter any lingering illusions about the virtues or good intentions of our colonial past. Yet, this is more than just the painful history of a once-so-called vanishing people (a people who have resisted vanishing despite the best efforts of those in charge); it is a testament to survival, perseverance, and the power of memory to keep history alive and promote the idea of a more open and just future.
Released to coincide with the Year of Reconciliation (2017), Medicine Unbundled is an important and timely contribution to our national narrative.
"This book deserves to be widely read, and should be acted upon boldly. Anyone who cares about human decency and social justice owes a debt to Gary Geddes and to his indigenous informants." —Tom Sandborn, Vancouver Sun
"In Medicine Unbundled, Geddes reflects on his changing understanding of Canadian identity and history, as well as his privilege and positionality. … Newcomers to these topics — especially casual readers — will discover a welcome overview, while seasoned researchers will find ample food for thought, a thorough bibliography and notes, and an index.” —Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail, Canada's History
“Medicine Unbundled impresses most with its humility and accessibility. If it is not the “shocking exposé” promised by one bookseller, it has an important national story to tell. … [Geddes'] account of his own journey will help to nudge Canadians into the difficult in-between spaces where a different Canada can be made in the decades to come.” —Roger Epp, Alberta Views
"Despite all this pain [Medicine Unbundled] is gentle and full of humour." —Fish Griwkowsky, Edmonton Journal
"I absolutely love this book. Geddes has done a simply amazing job of drilling deeply into this matter, and the end results are nothing less than spectacular. I congratulate him on a remarkable and remarkably important achievement." —Paul Barnsley, executive producer, Investigative News, APTN
"Gary Geddes wins 2018 Freedom to Read Award" —article in CBC Books
"Medicine Unbundled is not only smart, passionate, and humble, infused with respect for the people and their history, but also an important and inspiring work." —Maureen Lux, professor of Aboriginal and Canadian history, Brock University
"This is part of my story too, a great and necessary story Canadians need to read." —Richard Wagamese, author of Embers: One Ojibway's Meditations, Indian Horse, and One Native Life
“By collecting first-hand testimonies from survivors of Indian Hospitals, primarily in Western Canada, Geddes has generated a valuable and necessary work to complement Dara Culhane Speck’s ground-breaking An Error in Judgement: The Politics of Medical Care in an Indian/White Community
, Yvonne Boyer’s Moving Aboriginal Health Forward: Discarding Canada’s Legal Barriers
(which Geddes reviewed for the Vancouver Sun
), Maureen K. Lux’s Medicine That Walks: Disease, Medicine and Canadian Plains Native People
and her newly released academic study, Separate Beds: A History of Indian Hospitals in Canada, 1920s-1980s
(UTP 2016).” —Mary-Ellen Kelm, Ormsby Review