By Claudia Malacrida
Utilizing infrequent interviews with former inmates and employees, institutional documentation, and governmental files, Claudia Malacrida illuminates the darkish historical past of the remedy of “mentally faulty” kids and adults in twentieth-century Alberta. targeting the Michener Centre in purple Deer, one of many final such amenities working in Canada, a different Hell is a sobering account of the relationship among institutionalization and eugenics.
Malacrida explains how separating the Michener Centre’s citizens from their groups served as a sort of passive eugenics that complemented the lively eugenics application of the Alberta Eugenics Board. rather than receiving an schooling, inmates labored for very little pay – occasionally in houses and companies in pink Deer – below the guise of vocational rehabilitation. The good fortune of this version ended in large institutional progress, continual crowding, and negative residing stipulations that incorporated either regimen and outstanding abuse.
Combining the robust testimony of survivors with an in depth research of the institutional impulses at paintings on the Michener Centre, a different Hell is vital analyzing for these attracted to the stressful previous and troubling way forward for the institutional therapy of individuals with disabilities.
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Extra info for A Special Hell: Institutional Life in Alberta's Eugenic Years
Thus, in Alberta, the establishment of institutional segregation was closely tied to the later push for legalized eugenic sterilization. Just five years after the opening of Michener, the Province of Alberta passed the Sexual Sterilization Act, and from that time forward, the relationship between the Eugenics Board and Michener was a strong one. As noted earlier, meetings of the Eugenics Board were held on-site in the institution, the Michener superintendent was a standing, if unofficial, member of the Eugenics Board, Introducing the Michener Centre 29 and the Eugenics Board assisted the Mental Health Division of the Department of Health by providing experts to inspect Michener operations at several points in its history (Grekul, 2002; Wahlsten, 1997).
Eugenic Traits – The Institutional Record In the early days of the Michener Centre, a central component of the institution’s annual reporting included demographic information about inmates. The 32 A Special Hell birthplaces of all inmates and their parents were noted; the salient categories included Canada, Alberta, British, and Foreign (in that order), with the majority of inmates falling into the last category. As well, the religions of inmates were listed and included Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, Protestant, Hebrew, and Unknown (McAlister, 1924, 1926).
However, in the Michener survivor group, latent eugenic assumptions about these individuals are evident, since many of their personal demographic qualities would undoubtedly have raised concerns in eugenically inclined officials about “race purity,” immigration status, moral degeneracy, and tainted or degenerate stock. Although I am not arguing that these survivors are necessarily representative of the population at Michener or eugenic victims in Alberta, it is nevertheless clear that within this group are people with many characteristics that officials at the time would clearly have seen as polluting or degenerate.
A Special Hell: Institutional Life in Alberta's Eugenic Years by Claudia Malacrida