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Send cops to court

Re: City cop pleads not guilty in alleged assault on suspect (Free Press, Nov. 27). I am not sure how many more people will be assaulted and abused both physically and verbally by Winnipeg police officers before the department realizes they do indeed have employees with anger-management problems, and who are abusive, racist and mean, with little or no respect for others.

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Internal departments that hear all abuse accusations almost always determine that their employees are innocent. These cases should go before the courts with the facts and let an independent jury decide if police officers are guilty. Until police realize it is their responsibility to only make the arrest and then let the court system punish the accused, this constant police abuse will continue. This has gone on long enough. I hope our new police chief is listening.




Klingons can take it

Cathie Morgan Matula’s attempt at censorship ( Standing up for gays, Letters Nov. 26) is disgusting. Doug Speirs and William Jordan enjoy the right to the freedom of expression, protected by our constitution. The Winnipeg Free Press is just that; free to publish commentary that some people may find offensive. Any other approach means we lose freedom of the press. There is nothing offensive about a "gay Klingon" remark. Klingons are a mythical race invented by the Star Trek franchise. No person or creature is protected from comments he, she or it may find offensive. Matula and her Klingons will have to learn to live in an imperfect world.

This attempt at censorship is in order to force Matula’s opinions on us. Attempting to censor public commentary on any subject or topic is an affront to liberty and democracy that freedom-loving people the world over despise.





So much are we hearing in the media, yours included, about old people and their medical problems. The aging boomers are going to make this evermore insufferable. It is bad enough listening all about it at morning coffee. Get over it people, we are all going to die. And our pension programs depend upon this fact. Those that would save their life (mortal) lose it (eternal). Harrumph!




Dog with a bone

Boy, Michael Melanson is a dog with a bone. He is determined to stick with a definition of genocide that only includes killing people.

In an earlier letter, he asserts there was no intent to destroy aboriginal culture in the residential schools. Yet, the first thing that was done to the young people after being taken from their families (they had no choice) was that their clothing was removed, they were dressed in European clothing, and their hair was cut. They were not taught in their own language, nor were they taught about their own culture. These actions were deliberate attempts to teach the children that their own culture was inferior and, by implication, so were they. These are actions that were intended to eradicate a culture.

The children were not free to leave the schools. Even if they were, distance prevented them from escaping and they were physically punished when caught. After school was over, how could they return home when they had systematically been taught that home was an inferior place? Not only inferior but savage, pagan, a place to be despised. Most of the people who tried to participate in Canadian culture experienced overt racism that barred them from achieving anything they may have been promised.

By the time residential schools arrived, most aboriginal cultures had already been marginalized. Traditional ways of life had been destroyed by agricultural settlement, and the remaining individuals were stuck on unwanted reserve land and were expected to learn farming within a generation. In every aspect but the overt killing, this is the destruction of "ethnic" groups. Sounds a lot like genocide.

"Broadening the concept of genocide" may "make it easier to conceive genocide," but it can also reflect a realization that the destruction of a culture does not have to be accomplished through killing. Perhaps Melanson would like to come up with a new term, but it would still mean the same thing.




NDP bucket leaking

The song There’s a hole in the bucket could be the anthem of the Selinger government. This NDP bucket has sprung a legion of enormous holes aside from the flood-fighting tab. The concerns before the Clean Environment Commission were covered so well by former Hydro vice-president Will Tishinski. His description of the Bipole III routing issue, inflating the cost on the west side to $3.4 billion from the original $1 billion for the east-side routing is ignored by the premier (himself at one time finance minister). The enormous saving that could be realized with a return to the east side could allow a budgetary decrease in perpetuity, particularly with the decrease in line-loss cost with the shorter east-side routing. A petition or letter-writing campaign to the NDP government supported by opposition parties may be the only way to save Manitoba taxpayers from allowing this financial disaster.




Friendly giant missed

In Our own Icelandic saga, Nov. 24, the Free Press missed mentioning Svein Sigfusson (1912-1992).

Svein, an imposing 6-5, built more than 3,580 kilometres of winter road rights-of-way throughout northern Manitoba, Saskatchewan and northwestern Ontario. With a workforce of more than 400, half of them aboriginal, he rebuilt the network annually to resupply dozens of remote communities with food, staples, fuel and building supplies.

Originally operating a major fishing enterprise from Reindeer Lake to Flin Flon by cat train, and southward to Winnipeg and Chicago by rail, Sigfusson Transportation Ltd. kept improving the snow and ice roads to the point they were capable of carrying loaded 18-wheelers.

He loved to tell of teachers in remote communities not being able to keep children in school when the cat train arrived, or when many children saw their first vehicle ever. To northern children, this friendly giant was the next best thing to Santa Claus. He is a legend.

As a salvage expert, he raised dozens of graders, tractors and the like from the bottom of northern lakes. During his 16-year athletic career, Svein was eight-time Manitoba champion and nine-time Canadian champion in hammer throw and discus; British Empire Games bronze medalist in discus throw in 1950 and he was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame in 1982. He is listed as a "Memorable Manitoban" by the Manitoba Historical Society and received the Manitoba Centennial Medal in 1970 for his contribution to transportation in northern Manitoba.

After being put out of business through government interference in each of the three provinces, he wrote a book entitled: Sigfusson’s Roads, which was runner-up for the National Business Book Award in 1992.

Svein was invested as a Companion to the Order of Canada in 1974.




The Our own Icelandic saga feature was very interesting and informative. However, one person that I would have liked to see included in the faces of the Icelandic community is that of Margret Benedictsson (1866-1956). She was a publisher, editor and leader in the women’s suffrage movement. With her husband, Sigfus, she published and edited Freyja, the first Canadian women’s magazine and suffrage paper with a focus on women’s issues. The Spence Neighbourhood Association has placed a plaque in her honour at 530 Maryland St., where the Benedictssons lived in the early 1900s.




I was very disappointed that the story of Wilhelm Kristjanson, my father, was not included in the Free Press focus on Manitoba’s Icelandic community. He made significant contributions to life in our community and was so recognized by the University of Winnipeg with an honorary doctorate in 1972. Other awards included the Manitoba Historical Society Centennial Commemoration Medal, the Pioneer Historian Award and the YMCA Fellowship Pin He was chosen by the Manitoba Historical Society to write the 1965 book The Icelandic People in Manitoba and for many years was editor-in-chief of the Icelandic Canadian Magazine, for which he also wrote many articles and translations.

 He studied at Oxford, University of Chicago and others institutions.

 He was wounded at Vimy Ridge during the First World War and upon recovery joined the RAF, where he held the rank of 2nd lieutenant. During the Second World War, he served as a training officer.

 He taught in rural Manitoba from 1924 to 1969, was principal of the Consolidated School in Manitou and prepared curriculum courses for the correspondence branch of the Department of Education.



The Free Press welcomes letters from readers. Include the author’s name, address and telephone number. Letters may be edited. Letters to the Editor, 1355 Mountain Avenue, Winnipeg, R2X 3B6. Fax 697-7412. Email Letters represent the opinions of their writers and do not reflect the opinions of the Winnipeg Free Press or its staff.


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