Date of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




D. Ann Herring, PhD


T. Kue Young, MD, PhD



Committee Member

Trudy Nicks, PhD


This thesis explores the ethnohistory of Church- and State-mediated tuberculosis treatment for Inuit of the Cumberland Sound region from 1930 to 1972. Pangnirtung’s St. Luke’s Mission Hospital sits at the centre of this discussion and at the nexus of archival evidence and regional Inuit knowledge about tuberculosis. Triangulating information gained from fieldwork, archives, and a community-based photograph naming project, this study brings together the perspectives of Inuit hospital workers, nurses, doctors, and patients, as well as of Government and Anglican-Church officials, during the tuberculosis era in the Cumberland Sound.

The study arose from conversations with Inuit in Pangnirtung, who wondered why they were sent to southern sanatoria in the 1950s for tuberculosis treatment, when the local hospital had been providing treatment for decades. Canadian Government policy changes, beginning in the 1940s, changed the way healthcare was delivered in the region. The Pangnirtung Photograph Naming Project linked photos of Inuit patients sent to the Hamilton Mountain Sanatorium to day-book records of St. Luke’s, and culminated in an emotional ceremony in 2009, during which copies of the photographs were returned to survivors or relatives.

Information in hospital day books was used to map the yearly distribution of tubercular Inuit in traditional camps, which were progressively abandoned as Inuit in-migrated to Pangnirtung, in response to increased Government incursions and concerns about Arctic sovereignty. Contrary to the pattern for Canadian Arctic Inuit, more tubercular Inuit were treated locally at St. Luke’s than were sent away for treatment to southern hospitals on board the Government-commissioned medical-patrol ship, CGS CD Howe.

This thesis underlines the importance of linking archival sources to local Inuit knowledge, in a collaborative, community-based research environment. It also speaks to current concerns about the re-emergence of tuberculosis and the importance of developing culturally-appropriate community initiatives to manage infectious diseases in Nunavut.

McMaster University Library

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