Medicine Unbundled

A Journey through the Minefields of Indigenous Health Care


After the publication of his critically acclaimed book Drink the Bitter Root: A Writer’s Search for Justice and Healing in Africa, Gary Geddes turned the investigative lens on his own country, embarking on a difficult journey across Canada to interview Indigenous elders willing to share their experiences of abusive and segregated health care in the “Indian hospitals” that existed from coast to coast for more than half a century. The memories recounted by these survivors are truly harrowing. Yet, this is more than the painful story of a once so-called vanishing people. It is also a testament to survival, perseverance, and the power of memory to keep history alive and promote the idea of a more open and just future.


"This book deserves to be widely read and should be acted upon boldly. Anyone who cares about human decency and social justice owes a debt to Gary Geddes and to his indigenous informants. "—Tom Sandborn, Vancouver Sun

"Newcomers to these topics—especially casual readers—will discover a welcome overview, while seasoned researchers will find ample food for thought, a thorough bibliography and notes, and an index. "—Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail, Canada's History

"[Geddes'] account of his own journey will help to nudge Canadians into the difficult in-between spaces where a different Canada can be made in the decades to come. "—Roger Epp, Alberta Views

"Despite all this pain [Medicine Unbundled] is gentle and full of humour. "—Fish Griwkowsky, Edmonton Journal

"I absolutely love this book. Geddes has done a simply amazing job of drilling deeply into this matter, and the end results are nothing less than spectacular. I congratulate him on a remarkable and remarkably important achievement. "—Paul Barnsley, Aboriginal People’s Television Network

"The book reiterates the power of memory to keep history alive and suggests reconciliation as a means to a more open and just future for Canadian society. "—Canadian Indigenous Books for Schools

"This is part of my story too, a great and necessary story Canadians need to read. "—Richard Wagamese, author of Embers: One Ojibway's Meditations, Indian Horse, and One Native Life

"The resilience of the speakers of these stories and Geddes' compassionate and precise rendering of these shadowed narratives are hopeful medicine. "—BC Studies

"Medicine Unbundled is not only smart, passionate, and humble, infused with respect for the people and their history, but also an important and inspiring work. "—Maureen Lux, professor of Aboriginal and Canadian history, Brock University

"By collecting first-hand testimonies from survivors of Indian Hospitals, primarily in Western Canada, Geddes has generated a valuable and necessary work to complement Dara Culhane Speck's ground-breaking An Error in Judgement: The Politics of Medical Care in an Indian/White Community, Yvonne Boyer's Moving Aboriginal Health Forward: Discarding Canada's Legal Barriers (which Geddes reviewed for the Vancouver Sun), Maureen K. Lux's Medicine That Walks: Disease, Medicine and Canadian Plains Native People and her newly released academic study, Separate Beds: A History of Indian Hospitals in Canada, 1920s-1980s. "—Mary-Ellen Kelm, Ormsby Review