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Can Bull Med Hist. 2006;23(2):541-60.

"Lo! The poor Indian!" colonial responses to the 1862-63 smallpox epidemic in British Columbia and Vancouver Island.


The smallpox epidemic that swept through the colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia in 1862-63 was particularly devastating to the First Nations of the region. Colonists responded to the developments with a mixture of pity, revulsion, a smug sense of inevitability, and, above all, an overriding concern for their own self-interest. The colonial population may not have consciously attempted to devastate the First Nations populations, but their frequently negative attitudes towards them ensured that actions to prevent this occurrence were sporadic, poorly planned, counterproductive, or simply minimal.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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