Monday, December 21, 2020

William Osler and Rick Hill

I used to have a copy of Michael Bliss's biography of William Osler, but it was one of the casualties of a big downsizing of my library I did a couple of years ago, so I haven't able to consult it after the Toronto Star began publicizing new exposures about Osler's racist statements and his donations of aboriginal skulls, (some labelled " dug up near Caledonia") to medical/anthropological collections, where they remain. (The Star stories make no reference to Bliss's book, though the article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal does, briefly.)  I recall Bliss found Osler a highly admirable personality, but I don't know if these aspects appeared in his account.

The Star's related story, about the half century of work by Rick Hill, the Six Nations historian, curator, and activist, in recovering and repatriating indigenous skeletal collections from around the world for respectful burial, reminds me of the tributes due to this remarkable historical scholar and activist, who ought to be honoured for his remarkable career beyond just when a headline story involves him. 


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