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Gun laws ineffective

Re: U.S. gun violence continues (Letters, Aug. 22). Ron Charach seems to feel the U.S. Second Amendment gives one the right to shoot people. It doesn't.

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He also doesn't seem to understand that the murder was perpetrated by a 15-year-old, someone who cannot legally own or possess a firearm. That's just one of the so-called gun-control laws that had no effect on this young thug. And the most dangerous cities are places like liberal-controlled Chicago and Detroit.

TOM McAULEY

Winnipeg

Barriers to trades

I empathize with Jo-Anne Gibson trying to get her son into the apprentice program at Red River College (Trades entry barred by red tape, Letters, Aug. 20). We accompanied our grandson to RRC and we, too, were faced with the two-year waiting list.

We signed him onto the waiting list and then also signed him into the technology program. When he is finished with the technology program, he can continue into the pre-apprentice course.

I am a past president of the Certified Technicians and Technologists Association of Manitoba. My career was in the field of electrical construction and engineering. Frequently I was asked by journeymen electricians how to go about getting certified as a CET. I referred them to the association's office, where a review of their credentials generally found them lacking in maths.

I have a friend who is a contractor in the field of building maintenance and renovation. I bugged him to take my grandson on as an apprentice. He declined due to the competitiveness of the industry. It takes too much time from the tradesman to teach and oversee an apprentice. He will only hire persons with the "ticket" and a proven track record.

Incentives have to be put in place for companies to see the benefit of training their own skilled workmen. Alternatively, our children will have to go to some developing country to get their trade so maybe Canada will let them come back to get on with a career.

ERICH MANTLER

St. Francois Xavier

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Not only are the trades being blocked by red tape, but so are the nursing training fields. There is a waiting list for Canadians to enter the fields and no assistance available.

It is time the federal government and Minister Jason Kenny help those here first by opening up training and lowering tuition costs, instead of paying outsiders to come and steal jobs from our youth.

ELISABETH FLETT

Selkirk

Cultures evolve

In his Aug. 21 letter, Music part of all cultures, Dan Cecchini demonstrates a common misunderstanding of the concept of cultural genocide. Cultures are not frozen-in-time entities to be protected from genocide as though they are preserved under glass in a museum.

Cultures are negotiated, evolving sets of relations. They develop and change as members of the cultural group interact among themselves and with others. It is this self-determining nature of the cultural group that is at stake in cultural genocide, rather than a permanent and unvarying collection of beliefs, norms, objects and practices.

With respect to assimilation, Raphael Lemkin, the originator of the term genocide, was quite clear on how to differentiate processes of cultural sharing and blending from those of forced assimilation. For him, policies aimed at the "rapid and complete disappearance of the cultural, moral and religious life of a group of human beings" did amount to genocide.

This is why residential schools are part of the genocide discussion, while the adoption of musical styles from other cultural groups is understood to be less problematic.

Based on the attempt at forced assimilation through residential schools, as well as other state-sponsored interventions against the cultural, biological and physical lives of indigenous groups, settler colonialism in Canada is a worthy topic for inclusion in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

ANDREW WOOLFORD

Winnipeg

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May I point out to Dan Cecchini that the very music genres he mentions are ones that have been "assimilated" into popular culture from their beginnings in the margins of society.

There is no irony in their adoption by aboriginal peoples.

MICHAEL THIESSEN

Winnipeg

Nothing is so simple

Re: Alcohol affects pregnancy (Letters, Aug 22). It's unfortunate that Laura Mikuska and Brian Fristensky live in a world that's black and white, but there are very few things in our world that are cut and dried.

Fristensky seems to believe that it's impossible to be knowledgeable at more than one thing and that so-called experts use only science and not their own personal agenda or the moral trends of the day when making pronouncements.

I'm guessing he can't find a single example where Emily Oster recommended deregulating the derivatives market. Some economists said that. Not all. In addition, I'm guessing that the obstetricians and gynecologists have been over-cautious because that's their job and they're trying to avoid malpractice suits.

Mikuska's statement that there is "no known safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy" is not only false but completely unprovable. Hundreds of millions of perfectly healthy babies have been born to mothers who had one glass of wine (or some other spirit) each week while pregnant. On the flip side, thousands of kids with FASD have been born to mothers who abuse alcohol. Not use, but abuse. That's where the difference is.

DAVE FERGUSON

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 24, 2013 A8

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