Indigeneity is disability (in a settler colonial context): H-S. E. Wong, ‘”The brains of a nation’: The eugenicist roots of Canada’s mental health field and the building of a non-white disabled nation’, Canadian Review of Social Policy/Revue Canadienne de Politique Sociale, 75, 2-16, pp. 1-29
Abstract: This paper examines the literature published by the Canadian National Committee for Mental Hygiene (CNCMH), a precursor to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), from 1918-1921, and its connection to eugenicist social policies. Specifically, this study involves a critical discourse analysis of the Canadian Journal of Mental Hygiene (CJMH) published by the CNCMH, which illustrates how the roots of Canada’s mental health field are linked to a nation-building project deeply intertwined with eugenicist notions of race and disability. Foundation myths that reinforce the Canadian nation were also imbued in the literature, including: Canadian identity as linked to white non-disability, Canada as tabula rasa, and eugenicist fears of the ‘over-population’ of ‘undesirables’. On the basis of these foundation myths, the CNCMH considered mental hygiene discourse and practice as a means to further Canada as a white nondisabled nation. The desire to further the Canadian nation in this manner led to the promotion of eugenicist social policies. Many of these policies – especially, immigration controls – were put into place by the Canadian government and remain to this day.
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