Separate Beds author and Brock professor wins national honour

Dr. Maureen Lux, a professor in the Department of History at Brock University, has been awarded with a national honour for her work on colonialism and segregation in Canada. Dr. Lux received the 2017 Jason A. Hannah Medal from the Royal Society of Canada for her work on her book Separate Beds: A History of Indian Hospitals in Canada, 1920s-1980s. Dr. Lux will be celebrated for her research at the Royal Society’s Award Ceremony this November in Winnipeg.

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Released by the University of Toronto Press earlier this year, Separate Beds describes how Canada’s health care system in the early and mid-twentieth century forcefully segregated Indigenous people into different hospitals and health care centers. Not only were they segregated, but these Indigenous patients were ‘intentionally isolated’, according to Lux, and treated with substandard care and resources.

“In the middle decades of the 20th century, disease, especially tuberculosis, in First Nations and Inuit communities came to be characterized as a threat to national health and hygiene”, Dr. Lux explained. “Intended to isolate that threat, Indian Hospitals also served to ensure that Aboriginal people would not take up beds in increasingly modern and expensive community hospitals. While Canada invested millions in hospital infrastructure and programs of hospital and health insurance that became Medicare, Indian hospitals operated at half the cost of community hospitals.”

“It is of course a great honour to have my work acknowledged by my peers with the Royal Society of Canada’s Hannah Medal for the History of Medicine”, Dr. Lux explained, although the professor made a point to note that her work is a part of a larger conversation.

“But one could hope that it’s also an opportunity to continue the serious dialogue begun around the century-old Residential School program. Like the schools, Indian Hospitals and Health Services might be seen as nodes in a wider web of policies and relations that sought to undermine and isolate Indigenous communities in the interests of non-Indigenous Canada.”

Dr. Lux’s research is focused on determining the effects colonialism and ‘settler capitalism’ had on Indigenous people and their health. Previously, Dr. Lux has been awarded with the Canadian Historical Association Clio Prize. Dr. Lux also published Medicine That Walks: Medicine, Disease, and Canadian Plains Native People, 1880-1940 with the University of Toronto Press in 2001.

Separate Beds is available for purchase at the Brock Campus Store or online via Amazon.

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