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From Lab Rats to Psychics: Canadian Residential Schools Tested ‘Primitive’ Aboriginal Children for ESP

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Children ripped away from their parents during the boarding school era in Canada were not only subject to starvation in the name of nutrition experiments, but were also tested for extrasensory perception, or ESP, newly uncovered research shows.

Fifty children between ages 6 and 20 were the subjects of the series of tests at the Indian Residential School in Brandon, Manitoba, during the 1940s, CBC News reported.

The work was uncovered by indigenous community worker Maeengan Linklater. She in turn sent it on to McMaster University researcher Ian Mosby, who had revealed equally troubling nutritional and medical tests on children in British Columbia boarding schools a couple of years ago.

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In these tests, designed to gauge whether the “primitive” Indigenous Peoples had some sort of sixth sense, children “were tested based on their ability to guess what was written on a card that was being looked at by the researcher—essentially reading someone’s mind,” the Washington Post reported. “But the results were inconclusive: The children’s performance was no better than chance.”

The study called them “willing participants,” the Washington Post said, because they did it for candy. The Journal of Parapsychology published the inconclusive results in 1943.

“The bare fact that American Indians have shown ESP ability is not surprising enough to deserve great emphasis,” wrote the study’s author, according to the Post.

"When it came to science experiments, these students had no choice whether it involved experiments on ESP or nutrition," Mosby told the Winnipeg Free Press. "It makes you ask the question what experiments were done in these schools? What were the conditions that made it possible for scientists to walk in and do these experiments? The children were wards of the state."