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It’s a chapter of U.S. and Canadian history that many prefer to forget—and that many of us never even learned.

Either absent from many textbooks or given a mere nod in a sentence or two, the forcible, systematic removal of Native children from their families is one of the most shameful episodes in our history. Starting in the 19th century and continuing through the majority of the 20th, both the U.S. and Canadian governments created boarding schools, or residential schools, in which Native children were forced to “assimilate.”

What “assimilate” meant could be summed up in the words of U.S. cavalry captain Richard Henry Pratt, who opened the first Indian boarding school in Carlisle, Pennsylvania: “Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.”


Children were taken from their families to live at these schools, forced to speak English and practice Christianity, and punished for speaking their own languages or practicing their own customs. For decades, tens of thousands of Native children endured the cultural genocide the schools were designed to carry out, in addition to the emotional, physical, and sexual abuses that turned out to be all too common in such schools.

Some may think this is ancient history. But it wasn’t until the Indian Child Welfare Act passed in 1978 that Native parents in the U.S. gained the legal right to keep their own children from these schools. That's right. 1978.

A Christmas letter to Indian parents from a Canadian residential school highlights the arrogant racism inherent in the system.

Lance Albert of Saskatchewan, Canada shared a photo of a letter on Facebook from Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, British Columbia, dated November 18, 1948.

Imagine someone stealing your children so they can indoctrinate and abuse them until everything you and your family has taught them is destroyed. Then imagine getting this letter from them in the mail:

Can you imagine? Some of our Parents, Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts, Cousins, Brothers, Sisters went through this...

Posted by Lance Albert on Saturday, December 15, 2018

"Dear Parents,

It will be your privilege this year to have your children spend Christmas at home with you. The holidays will extend from DECEMBER 18th to JANUARY 3rd. This is a privilege which is being granted if you observe the following regulations of the Indian Department.

  1. THE TRANSPORTATION TO THE HOME AND BACK TO THE SCHOOL MUST BE PAID BY THE PARENTS. The parents must come themselves to get their own children. If they are unable to come they must sent a letter to the Principal of the school stating that the parents of other children from the same Reserve may bring them home. The children will not be allowed to go home alone on the train or bus.
  2. THE PARENTS MUST BRING THE CHILDREN BACK TO THE SCHOOL STRICTLY ON TIME. If the children are not returned to School on time they will not be allowed to go home for Christmas next year.

I ask you to observe the above regulations in order that this privilege of going home for Christmas may be continued from year to year. It will be a joy for you to have your children with you for Christmas. It will be a joy also for your children and it will bring added cheer and happiness to your home.

Yours sincerely,

Rev. F. O'Grady, O.M.I, Principal."

Imagine having your kids forcibly taken from you, then being told that seeing them for the holidays was “a privilege.”

The reverend used the word "privilege" three times to describe parents simply getting to see their own children at their own expense. He threatens to hold their children hostage next Christmas if they don't return them on time. Then he repeatedly tells them what "a joy" it will be for them to get to see each other, as if he's issuing some kind of happiness edict. Gross.

Add in the fact that many of the Native parents receiving this letter didn't speak or read English, nor did they celebrate Christmas, and the arrogance and condescension in the letter grow even greater.

In fact, the whole thing reads like something President Snow in "The Hunger Games" would write. How nauseating is it to realize that the dystopian stories we eagerly consume as entertainment have been the lived reality of thousands of Native and First Nations people for so much of our history?

And again, this is modern history. My mom was a child when this letter was written, and I was born before Native parents in my own country had the legal right to say no to the government stealing their children. There are thousands of people living with the aftermath of these policies and practices, right here, right now.

Let's add this to the list of human atrocities we vow to #NeverForget.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

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John Cena sets new world record with 650 wishes granted with the Make-A-Wish Foundation

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"I'll drop everything."

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The actor and WWE performer just broke the Guinness World Records for most wishes granted through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. As of July 19, Guinness World Records reports, Cena has granted a whopping 650 wishes. The highest amount any other celebrity granted was 200.

The 16-time world champion first became a wish-granter back in 2002. Since then, he’s become the foundation’s most requested celebrity—and he never turns anyone down.

"I just drop everything. I don't care what I'm doing," he said in a WWE produced video after granting his 500th wish. “I can't say enough how cool it is to see the kids so happy, and their families so happy, I truly want to show them that it's their day.”
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As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

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