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Introducing History's Postdoc

Mon. Jan. 21, 2019

Dr. Erin Millions is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the project “Indigenous Histories of Tuberculosis in Manitoba, 1930s-1970s” at the University of Winnipeg. Dr. Millions completed her PhD in History at the University of Manitoba in 2018 under the supervision of Dr. Adele Perry. Her research interests include the histories of children and families, colonialism in Canada and the wider British Empire, material culture studies, and Indigenous peoples. Her doctoral dissertation examines the education of mid-nineteenth-century Indigenous fur trade children in Canada and Britain, and demonstrates both the mobility of Indigenous fur trade children between Rupert’s Land and Britain and the extensive kin networks that underwrote that mobility.

Dr. Millions’ postdoctoral work with the Indigenous Histories of Tuberculosis in Manitoba project responds to the requests of Indigenous people for assistance in locating missing loved ones who did not return home from treatment for tuberculosis at Indian hospitals and sanatoriums in Manitoba. She is working to sort out the administration of death and burial at Dynevor Indian Hospital in Selkirk (1940-1958) and Brandon Indian Sanatorium (1947-1959). The goal of this project is to locate the archival records related to death and burial of Indigenous child patients in an effort to better assist Indigenous communities and family members who are searching for missing patients. As part of this project, Dr. Millions is working with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to assess the records that the NCTR has gathered on Indian hospitals and sanatoriums in Manitoba.

Dr. McCallum shared the following about Dr. Millions and her work.

I feel fortunate that Dr. Millions chose to come to the University of Winnipeg to work with me on a post-doc on Indigenous histories of Tuberculosis. Her work focuses on researching and sharing this vitally important history. In her work, Dr. Millions has committed to undertaking the incredibly difficult task of shedding light on death and burial practices of Indigenous people. What makes this work so important is that institutions often treated Indigenous deaths as mundane and even expected, and dealt with them on an adhoc basis, leaving few records behind. But it is also important because the records relating to deaths, when they were created, were not shared publicly until very recently, which means they have been unavailable to those most affected by this history.

Dr. Millions works in a way that centres Indigenous experience and Indigenous people – those who are living and those who have passed on - at the heart of her work. She also positions her work in such a way that it speaks directly to those who are most invested in the work. For example, she has recently taken on a project to publicly share historical photographs of tuberculosis institutions that we have uncovered as part of our research so that they can be viewed, studied, and described by those who have first-hand knowledge of this history, and those who are interested in learning more about it.  

While a Post-Doc at the University of Winnipeg, Dr. Millions also creatively and successfully taught one of our department's Indigenous Course Requirements (HIST 1007 - Indigenous History Since 1900). This course has made an important impact on her students, who, in her class, were exposed to recent Indigenous scholarship and writing on twentieth-century history, and challenged in reflective assignments and activities, to come to terms with modern Indigenous history and colonialism in Canada.

Dr. Mary Jane McCallum