Inuit Speak Out About Human Experiments Done on Them Without Consent

Inuit from Igloolik, Nunavut, say they want answers about human experiments performed on them in the late 1960s and early ’70s. It’s estimated that researchers did skin grafting experiments on more than 30 Inuit from Igloolik.

Nearly 50 years ago, Igloolik was the site of scientific research as part of a larger project called the International Biological Program. Much of the program’s work in Igloolik focused on Inuit.

An article, published in the 1970s on the program, said studies on “Eskimos, South American Indians, migrants and populations living at high altitude … include not only the health of these populations but also social conditions, nutritional patterns [and] biological rhythms.”

The experiments in Igloolik are outlined in the 2005 book written by one of the doctors involved, Dr. John B. Dossetor. Dossetor is a celebrated Canadian doctor who was inducted into the Order of Canada in 1994.

In his book, Dossetor details his participation in the research mission, travelling to Igloolik in 1972 and performing a series of skin grafts on the people who lived in the community.

In the book he concluded that his team had not done enough to secure meaningful consent.

Members of the community say he never made any attempts to apologize to the people he experimented on.



Photo: “Two Inuit boys playing in an igloo, Igloolik, Northwest Territories / Deux garçons inuits jouent dans un igloo à Igloolik (Territoires du Nord-Ouest)” by Library and Archives Canada / Bibliothèque et Archives Canada is licensed under CC BY 2.0