By Claudia Malacrida
Utilizing infrequent interviews with former inmates and staff, institutional documentation, and governmental files, Claudia Malacrida illuminates the darkish historical past of the therapy of “mentally faulty” little ones and adults in twentieth-century Alberta. concentrating on the Michener Centre in pink 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 setting apart the Michener Centre’s citizens from their groups served as a kind of passive eugenics that complemented the energetic eugenics software of the Alberta Eugenics Board. rather than receiving an schooling, inmates labored for very little pay – occasionally in houses and companies in pink Deer – lower than the guise of vocational rehabilitation. The luck of this version ended in large institutional development, continual crowding, and poor residing stipulations that integrated either regimen and impressive abuse.
Combining the strong testimony of survivors with a close research of the institutional impulses at paintings on the Michener Centre, a different Hell is key studying for these drawn to the aggravating prior and troubling way forward for the institutional remedy of individuals with disabilities.
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Extra info for A Special Hell: Institutional Life in Alberta's Eugenic Years
Even by the government’s own account, less than 20% of Michener residents ever received any form of education (Alberta Social Services and Community Health, 1985). I will discuss educational experiences within the institution more fully later, but for now it is sufficient to note that sense training was rarely a springboard to occupational therapy or a higher level of vocational training for inmates, and traditional literacy and numeracy education was a rare privilege afforded to only a few inmates.
Children who experienced mental health crises while in Michener were sent to Ponoka Mental Hospital, mental health patients from Ponoka were transferred to Michener as their situations stabilized, and the Eugenics Board held rotating meetings at Ponoka, Claresholm, Raymond, and, most often, at the Michener Centre in Red Deer. In addition, the Mental Hygiene Clinics that were established in major centres in the province, and that conducted travelling visits on a regular basis to outlying districts across the province, drew on referrals from schools, social workers, and local physicians and funnelled admissions to all the residential facilities serving children with mental health concerns or intellectual disabilities.
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).
A Special Hell: Institutional Life in Alberta's Eugenic Years by Claudia Malacrida