Some people may wonder why it is important to examine records that were written by non-Indigenous people in order to understand First Nations, Métis and Inuit history. While the majority of government records tend to contain information that is non-Indigenous in origin, they can be read for the voices of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people – historians call this reading “against the grain.” In addition written records kept by those who managed healthcare systems often contain important information about the past that can be obtained through no other means than archival research. This includes the methods and approaches of institutions and descriptions of the care given to Indigenous people. The treatment of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people and their experiences in the hospitals is a matter of civic concern and public policy. It is thus vitally important that historical records be accessible to ethical and Indigenous-supported programs of research seeking to uncover this past.
The information contained within archives was produced by institutions operating without the consent of Indigenous people. As a result, it is all the more important that research on tuberculosis history follows ethical procedures, including not only university, provincial and national guidelines for ethical research, but also Indigenous research ethics. In practice, our procedures include the separation of identifying information, the secure storage of research materials, and consultation before publication and dissemination of knowledge gathered in the project.