IERC and the Faculty of Education Exhibit on Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce: A Man of Conscience

November 16, 2022

The Indigenous Education and Reconciliation Council (IERC) and The Faculty of Education are honoured to be displaying the Peter Henderson Bryce: A Man of Conscience exhibit in English and French in The Learning Hub until December 1, 2022. The travelling exhibit, courtesy of the Legacy of Hope Foundation, tells the little-known story of Dr. Bryce, a residential school whistleblower who attempted to sound the alarm on the inhumane conditions at residential schools but was silenced by the Canadian government. 

More than 100 years ago, as the newly appointed Chief Medical Officer of the Federal Departments of the Interior and Indian Affairs, Dr. Bryce noticed unusually high death rates for Indigenous peoples in Canada. He shared these observations in his 1905 and 1906 annual reports, followed by an official report one year later entitled, Report on the Indian Schools of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories, detailing the alarming health conditions and mortality rates of children in the Canadian residential school system in Western Canada. This report was never made public by the Canadian government and Dr. Bryce lost his appointment, his funding, was barred from speaking at medical conferences, and was forced into retirement, later passing away in 1932. 

Despite publishing this report in 1922 under the title The Story of a National Crime: Being a Record of the Health Conditions of the Indians of Canada from 1904 to 1921, Dr. Bryce’s story and report went mostly unnoticed for decades. That was until Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, learned about Dr. Bryce and noticed the parallels in her advocacy and Dr. Bryce’s work. She began advocating for his story to be told and continuing his legacy and fight for justice and Indigenous children’s rights. In 2007, 100 years after Dr. Bryce spoke up, Blackstock filed a formal human rights complaint against the Canadian government, a fight that continues to this day

As Cindy Blackstock shared in an interview with Anne Borden King on Healthy Debate, “If the Government of Canada had listened to Dr. Bryce and if an outraged public pushed the government to act when headlines about Dr. Bryce’s reports appeared in newspapers across the country, thousands of children’s lives could have been saved.”

“Today, Indigenous children in Canada still do not have the same opportunities as other children,” says Layla Dumont, Manager of the Office of Indigenous Education. “We really need to continue having these conversations, to continue to learn truth and consider what we are willing to do and what we can do, to change this reality.”

The exhibit is open to all staff, faculty, and students at Simon Fraser University to visit, learn about Dr. Bryce’s story, engage in self-guided learning & reflection, and continue important conversations about truth and reconciliation. It is also open to classrooms and groups and can be arranged by contacting Layla Dumont at 778-782-9358 or

“Dr. Bryce’s legacy is an example of a man who had the ‘moral courage’ to do what was right and who suffered greatly as a result,” says Dumont, “This exhibit is an opportunity to look within and reflect about our responsibilities in the journey towards truth and reconciliation both individually and collectively.”