Inuit file lawsuit for being ‘human guinea pigs’ in late ’60s biological experiment

A class-action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a group of Inuit – including former Nunavut premier Paul Quassa – who say they were medically experimented on against their will.

The plaintiffs come from Igloolik and, possibly, Hall Beach, said lawyer Steven Cooper.

“Between roughly 1967 -1973, Canada was a participant in an international biological research program which, among other things, used humans as experimental fodder,” Cooper said in a news release Thursday.

“During this time Inuit Canadian citizens in what is now Igloolik in Nunavut were forcibly included as human guinea pigs.”

Read the statement of claim 

Cooper said skin was grafted from one research subject to another as part of the “International Biological Program” that involved several universities.

“All of this happened with the knowledge and, it would appear, support of the Canadian government directly or indirectly,” Cooper added.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Cooper said it is unclear why the experiments were conducted. So far, he said 30 subjects have been identified – primarily in Igloolik.

He noted the research took place while Inuit were being colonized and moved into communities from the land.

He said they were under full control of the federal government at the time and compliance was “expected.”

Cooper is hoping more subjects come forward as word of the lawsuit spreads.

“The government of Canada did not protect its citizens but rather made them available as subjects of the outrageous and questionable experiments,” he said in the release.

“It is also a sad fact that many died without having had the opportunity to seek an apology and compensation from the government of Canada.”

The lawsuit was filed June 7 in the Nunavut Court of Justice. It still needs to be certified by a judge.



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