Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Many readers reject genocide term
An article on whether the term "genocide" applies to Canada's indigenous people resulted in a lot of online comments from readers.
I think there is no question historical injustices were perpetrated against some aboriginal Canadians. There is also no question this did not equate to genocide unless you alter the definition to make it so. Stating the truth does not deny anyone their history.
But was it genocidal? A resounding no! Shoplifting and first-degree murder are both categorized as a criminal act, but there is a magnitude of difference between the two, just like in this case.
It is abhorrent to compare crimes against humanity and genocides to belittle and excuse other crimes against humanity and genocides. There is no excuse for human suffering. Acceptable levels of human suffering is the root failure that sees us all in the current state of local and world affairs.
-- Michael Kannon
Like murder, genocide is a word that describes a specific base act. Various degrees of murder have been defined based on the circumstances or intent surrounding the act. We have first-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death, each carrying different penalties. None of these degrees redefine the word murder, they just put it in perspective. Perhaps we need the same thing with genocide. I don't think everyone will ever agree the same word should describe both the banning of a people's religion and loading people into gas chambers. One is the result of theological differences; the other is elimination of a species. The end result is also different. Nobody can honestly say losing your culture and losing your life is the same thing.
-- Slim G
When I read the comments here I have to wonder why so many people are so adamant this was not a genocide, when by the United Nations' definition it is very clear it was. The forcibly transferring children part is especially clear. There is, of course, the usual comments such as "Get over it" and "It was in the past." There are a whole lot of awful things done all over the world in the past. It is important we all know and learn from the past. And how dare we tell somebody to get over it when they have not been afforded the opportunity to heal. Acknowledging is part of the healing. I did not personally do anything to the First Nations people, and I would assume the people commenting here did not as well, but I have no problem as a descendent of an immigrant acknowledging the wrongs done to so many of our First Nations people.
Nobody is asking you to take any blame, but please do not deny these people their history.
This is an interesting piece, but I find it odd the acceptance of a watered-down definition of genocide is construed as "progressive" and as "advanced." It is even suggested "progress" would mean watering down the concept of genocide just enough to include Canada's treatment of aboriginal peoples. I know the academics prefer "broadening" to "watering down" to describe what they are doing. In my view, there is good reason to adhere to the "narrower" UN definition.
-- Spence Furby
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 20, 2014 A10
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