history of water

4

“The radium water worked fine until his jaw fell out”

From the early 20th century up to the 1930’s the use of radioactive materials for dubious quack medical cures were common.  There were various machines which could irradiate the body, radium laced salves and creams, radioactive medicines, radium cosmetics, and a wide variety of other radioactive products.  One popular product was radioactive health water.  Often distilled water containing radium, it was marketed to treat or cure a wide variety of ailments. Whether you suffered from rheumatism or cancer, or if you simply need a boost of revigorating energy in your day to day life, radium water was a miracle cure for just about anything.  Many radium water producers advocated drinking radium water as a necessity of healthy living.  At first companies simply sold bottled radium water on its own.  Later, various products were marketed as a way to make your own radium water at home. Such products were either inserts which were placed in a jar of water, or were radium lined crocks with a tap which one used to brew radium water.

Radium water was legally sold until 1932 when a famous athlete named Eben Beyers died that year.  Beyers was a popular consumer and spokesperson for Radithor, a brand of radium water manufactured by Baily Radium Laboratories Inc.  It was founded by Dr. William J. A. Baily, who was not a real doctor but claimed his concoction of distilled water, radium, and mesothorium gave the consumer extra energy and strength.  In 1932, Beyers had to have his jaw removed due to mouth cancer.  A short time later he was dead.  The Wall Street Journal did an expose of Radithor entitled “The Radium Water Worked Fine Until his Jaw Fell Out”.  Outrage from Beyers’ death forced the Food and Drug Administration to investigate the dangers of radioactive health products, which eventually led to a ban in 1933.

Edward S. Curtis. Tó Neinilii (Rain God), Yebichai ceremonial dancer, Navajo, 1904.

On this July 1st, this “Canada Day”, this “150th anniversary”, here’s your reminder that “Canada” is trash and not worth celebrating.

The “Fathers of the Confederation” acted out of economic and geopolitical interests and “Canada” was not founded on the interests nor the voice of anyone but the bourgeois’.

Hundreds of underpaid Chinese workers died building a transcontinental railway that ran through indigenous lands, violating the treaties. Reminder that the Québécois are as insensitive as any other white people when they call a certain meal “pâté chinois”. Reminder that the Québécois are settlers too and that past oppression does not excuse us.

In less than a decade in the late 19th century, Cree, the Niitsítapi, the Nakoda, the Métis and the Sioux, to name a few, dealt with the extinction of bisons, famines, diseases and persecutions. In 1881 the Saskatchewan Herald mocked them for starving in the streets. The Canadian government then sent in more guns to defend the food supply, than food.

The RCMP and the Canadian police departments have a history of violence against Indigenous people (and specifically Indigenous women), people of colour, leftists, and the LGBTQIA2S communities. “Canada” purged thousands of queer people from the government and the army between the 1950s and the 1990s. Despite it being continuously shown as a cute symbol of “Canada”, the RCMP represents colonialism, capitalism and patriarchy.

Tens of thousands of Indigenous children were taken away from their homes, their land, their families, their culture and their language to “take the Indian out of them” in residential schools. The last one closed in 1996. Reminder of the ongoing, historical, intergenerational trauma of colonialism and racism.

Thousands more Indigenous children were taken away from their homes between the 1960s and the 1980s and given to strangers’ families. Thousands still live in foster care today, away from home.

The deadly trains still go through the town of Lac-Mégantic (and many more towns), despite the 2013 fire and the lost lives and the trauma, as a false compromise for pipelines.

The Canadian army takes part in various wars, in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria. “Canada” sells tanks to Saudi Arabia.

White Canadians love to make fun of, co-opt, appropriate and folklorize other people’s cultures.

White Canadians relish in images of great mountains, white snow, strong rivers and mighty winds in books, poems, plays, music, paintings; they relish in an idea of the “True North” that was never theirs. They willingly take part in the destruction of nature for economic interests anyway.

Justin Trudeau (as if his family name alone wasn’t a red flag) is a liberal; his PR team should not fool us; he keeps promising without delivering; his speeches and symbolic gestures are not enough, and he keeps approving detrimental policies just like his predecessors.

Indigenous people are not an artefact or a relic from the past; speaking of them in the past tense only serves white people’s interests and embarrassment.

The people of Attawapiskat are still in a state of emergency and have yet to see any promise fulfilled, more than one year after 9 people attempted suicide on a single day.

The Inuit in Nunavut, as well as Indigenous peoples in Alaska and Greenland, are punished and marginalized nationally and internationally for seal hunting. Sealing is a traditional and necessary practice in the north.

There are still hundreds (if not thousands) of missing and murdered Indigenous women whose cases are ignored or unsolved.

Water protectors exist in “Canada”, too. Many communities don’t even have access to clean water or electricity.

There are currently Indigenous activists on Parliament Hill, which is situated on unceded Algonquin land. Canadians and the Canadian media are currently afraid of a tipi.

PM Trudeau sat in the tipi last night, while protesters could not enter it and many were arrested on the site.

Many other protests, demonstrations, drum circles, prayers and road blocks are being held around the country. Reminder that violence is as legitimate as peaceful protest in the face of colonial violence.

Reminder that land is not property, that it is not mine, and that us settlers are uninvited and occupiers. We live comfortably at the expense of a land that we distabilize, plunder, poison, drown, starve.

Reminder that Canada is a society rooted in colonial, capitalist, patriarchal and racist ideologies that should not be celebrated.

Sources will follow when I have access to my laptop.

In June 1966, the Apollo 1 crew practices water egress procedures with a full scale boilerplate model of the spacecraft.  In the water at right are astronauts Ed White and Roger Caffee. In the raft near the spacecraft is Gus Grissom.  NASA swimmers are in the water to assist in the practice session that took place at Ellington AFT near the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, TX.  On January 27th, 1967, the crew perished during a fire aboard the craft during launch rehearsal.