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A lesson in respect

Bartley Kives' Dec. 16 column, First Nations, first rights, regarding people's reaction to First Nations being consulted on the military barracks struck a nerve for me. The reactions of people illustrate how much some Winnipeggers need a lesson in culture and respect. I'm embarrassed to admit some of these people are my friends or acquaintances.

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As a people who were colonized and torn away from their culture, their children ripped away from them, their slaughter justified because Christian leaders deemed them to be "soulless," they deserve to be consulted and have treaties honoured.

I cannot imagine being torn from your family, not shown love or empathy or any of the emotions that many of us learn from our parents, which helps guide us to become the people we are.

It doesn't matter how long ago the land was stolen from First Nations people (it is rightfully their land). What matters is that they are given back some of their land to use for economic purposes and the people are treated with decency and respect. To say that they should "move on" or "get over it" illustrates the ignorance that continues to permeate Canadian culture.



A proactive approach

In his Dec. 8 column, It's-good-for-you campaigns don't work, Arya Sharma identifies some of the challenges of efforts to improve population health through education campaigns. While I agree with him to some extent, I would like to provide some context around these campaigns and clarify the nature of public health.

Public health is proactive and preventive in approach. Its aim is to maintain and improve the health of communities and populations by going beyond individual treatment -- and certainly beyond individual behaviour change. Public health investigates the factors that determine health, which are broad and often linked to, or a result of, the environments in which we live. These factors include income and income inequity, access to social supports, the infrastructure of our cities and neighbourhoods, work and unemployment, stress, chronic illnesses and addiction.

Addressing these challenges is complex and complicated problems require comprehensive solutions. Public-health researchers and practitioners must work with governmental, not-for-profit and community organizations that span the transport, finance, education, infrastructure, employment, social services and culture sectors, to name just a few.


School of Public Health

University of Alberta


Farmers are easy

Columnist Jim Collinson (Bipole III to cost farmers billions, Dec. 19) should not be surprised that the NDP and Manitoba Hydro have allowed a mere $34 million one-time payment to farmers affected by Bipole III. After all farmers, unlike Indian bands, are much easier to deal with. They'll simply be told how much compensation they'll be getting and that will be that.

Collinson can be assured that very little of the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on environmental studies and lawyer consultation fees went toward consulting with farmers. Let's face it: This whole Bipole III fiasco is about two things -- stroking the egos of the NDP hierarchy; and appeasing a few northern Indian bands.



A more crucial figure

Ken Klassen's assertion that almost half of new energy output by 2035 will come from renewables may be accurate (Renewables will triple, Letters, Dec. 20). Yet the key word here is "new," since the International Energy Agency's 2012 report also mentions a more crucial figure: Fossil fuels will still provide 75 per cent of total global energy by that year and carbon emissions will rise nearly 20 per cent as a result.

As for renewables, there are reliable types such as hydro, whose electricity generation is forecast to increase by 50 per cent during the next two decades, and unreliable ones, such as wind and solar, which often require fossil-fuel backup when air flow and sunlight are inadequate.



Missing the objective

The constant reporting of the Phoenix Sinclair case is heart-wrenching and discouraging. It also misses the objective of preventing such tragedies.

No amount of finger-pointing and blaming Child and Family Services can prevent such misfortune. Phoenix's parents struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. Certainly when sober and lucid, they were wonderful parents.

The real issue that should be addressed is that her parents did not get the help they needed with their addiction struggles. The first step in addressing such issues is to admit the addiction exists.

The Free Press would serve its readers better if it would report on the true cause of Phoenix's death and support any measures that would help reduce the misuse of drugs and alcohol.




While I understand the need to know, the baseline of the media, I suggest that journalists involved in child-welfare news coverage be mindful of the children when speaking of social workers.

Though reporting must, of course, be comprehensive, it's vital to acknowledge that future social workers are watching closely and will be less and less attracted to working with child welfare in any capacity.

So know that your words carry weight. Accept that responsibility and act accordingly. For the sake of the children.



A dubious contribution

Re: American culture murderous without guns (Dec. 18). Gwynne Dyer makes a dubious contribution to the growing volume of commentary on the tragic massacre in Connecticut. His premise is that the homicide rate in the U.S. is so high that it is not comparable to other developed countries and has not undergone a parallel decline in recent decades. This is demonstrably false.

According to FBI data, the U.S. homicide rate for 2011 was 4.7 per 100,000 people, a drop of more than 50 per cent from its 1980 peak of 10.2 per 100,000. While the U.S. is arguably much safer now than in the recent past, its homicide rate is still greater than that of Canada and many other nations -- a fact requiring far more careful explanation than Dyer provides.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 27, 2012 A12

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