By Pat Sandiford Grygier
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Additional resources for A Long Way from Home: The Tuberculosis Epidemic among the Inuit
For most patients, the stay in hospital was long - six months to two years. The early sanatoria were usually built in the country, away from polluted air, visitors, and city distractions. Later, the sanatoria were located near larger medical centres and general hospitals. 10 10 A Long Way from Home Free treatment for all patients was first provided by Saskatchewan in 1929, followed by Alberta in 1936. Assistance programs were introduced in Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia, and Quebec in the 19305; and immediately after World War II, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia made treatment free.
The routine called for a cold chest bath at 7 am, breakfast and dinner with windows thrown wide open, though the temperature outside might be 40 degrees below zero, and open-air exercise in the cold. At mealtime, a minimum of twenty minutes had to be devoted to the first two courses in a three-course meal. There was a close affinity between long-term illness and poverty, and resources for help were few or non-existent. Consequently, nurses became involved in attempting to bridge the gap by soliciting help from voluntary agencies and groups to provide necessities such as food and clothing.
Seal meat used to be the staple diet of the Arctic Coast Inuit, and white fox and caribou the most important land animals, the fox for the sale value of its fur, the caribou for clothing as well as meat. The Eastern Arctic Inuit were more dependent on sea animals - the whale, the walrus, and the seal - but they also hunted caribou in the summer. There were devastating periods from time to time when the caribou failed to come or when the white fox, the staple "cash crop," was scarce because its main food, the lemmings, had declined; or when falling fur prices left the Inuit with insufficient credit to cover their needs at the Hudson's Bay Company store.
A Long Way from Home: The Tuberculosis Epidemic among the Inuit by Pat Sandiford Grygier