APTN National News
Emma Shorty still remembers her days at the Chooutla residential school and more specifically, the hunger that went along with it.
“There was hardly any food,” Shorty told APTN National News.
According to a study by the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the severe hunger and malnutrition students faced at residential schools are still causing health issues for Indigenous peoples today including diabetes, and obesity.
Co-author Ian Mosby said previous research on malnutrition in schools, along with testimony from survivors, was the basis for the report.
“What we found was what many survivors have talked about is this unending hunger,” said Mosby.
Read the CMAJ Report here: Hunger was never absent
Shorty was born on her family trap line in 1933.
At the age of four, she was taken from her family and placed in Chooutla in Carcross, Yukon.
“The food wasn’t good and they said it was because of world war two but we could have eaten better,” said Shorty.
According to the Shorty, students often had to fend for themselves to eat.
She recalls a time when one of her dormmates made snares for gophers and rabbits.
“The first time we went to see our rabbit snares we got two,” she said. “She cleaned it all and cooked it on the wood heater during the night when we were suppose to be in bed sleeping boiled them no salt or nothing but sure tasted good.”
Mosby said hunger was common because schools were underfunded.
He estimates that the typical diet for residential school students was between 1,000 and 1,400 calories per day.
Canada’s food guide recommends a growing child should consume anywhere between 1,200 and 3,100 calories.
Mosby said the research shows that malnourished children were more likely to experience physiological and physical complications.
“Having undergone extreme deprivation which puts survivors at higher risk for conditions like Type 2 diabetes, higher risk of obesity and higher risk for other chronic diseases,” he said.
Shorty said she doesn’t have any health conditions related to residential schools.
She said if it wasn’t for people like her uncle, she wouldn’t be alive today.
“A whole moose and whatever he caught like fish he would bring them to the school so all that students there could have good food,” she said.
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