Finding Peter Bryce: Story of a National Crime is a 22 minute documentary that tells the story of an early critic of the residential school system. It can be used as a jumping off point for conversations about the role of individuals and communities of faith in responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 calls to action.
As a sponsor of the film, Toronto United Church Council (TUCC) is authorized to share it at no cost with United Church communities of faith along with discussion questions and resources to facilitate conversation.*
Dr. Peter Bryce was Ontario’s first Chief of Public Health; his innovations were copied across North America. In the early 20th Century, as the medical officer with oversight responsibilities for Canada’s residential school system, Bryce identified the shortcomings of the system’s response to malnutrition and tuberculosis. His reports on the epidemics and recommendations for their remedy were set aside by senior government officers and he was relieved of his duties. In 1922, Bryce published Story of a National Crime, describing the tragic consequences.
The documentary Finding Peter Bryce reveals that not all settler peoples were blind to the injustice inherent in Canada’s residential school system and the effects of those shortcomings. If citizens were blind to the issues, it was a willful blindness. Dr. Bryce’s perspective was in sharp contrast to that of civil servant Duncan Campbell Scott, whose tragic role as deputy superintendent of the Department of Indian Affairs is outlined in the film. But First Nations’ children’s advocate, Cindy Blackstock points out that many of us today find ourselves making similar decisions when there is pressure to conform. Each of us must choose how we respond to the challenge of reconciliation.
*Unfortunately TUCC is only authorized to share this film with United Church communities of faith, and for this reason, your registration will be verified before access is granted. If you have not yet done so, you will need to create an account on CHURCHx in order to access the film and associated resources. If you need help with registering on CHURCHx please contact email@example.com.Schools and other institutions are requested to purchase a license. Currently, these are available at: https://movingimages.ca/products/finding-peter-bryce