Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
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The language of history
I understand why people believe that genocide is what was inflicted on Canada's Aboriginal Peoples (The genocide test, July 12). However, the word "ethnocide," as used internationally, is more accurate than "genocide" in summing up the wrongs inflicted.
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples refers to ethnocide as encompassing "actions such as population transfers, imposed assimilation and integration, and any form of propaganda against indigenous peoples." Forced displacement of First Nations people to reserves and residential schools, as well as the destruction of traditional livelihoods and culture, are Canadian examples of this.
Referring to what aboriginal peoples endured in Canada's past as ethnocide doesn't minimize the impact of that past on present-day aboriginal communities. It captures this shameful historical reality more precisely, without watering down the intensity of the wrong.
We are learning ethnocide can still lead to the premature death of individuals subjected to it, and still evokes the extreme violation of basic human rights while avoiding the semantic obfuscation that "genocide" engenders.
Realities flooding in
Letter-writer Chris Kennedy says Premier Greg Selinger "needs to find or devise a program so farmers are fully compensated, with no nitpicking on the dollars" (Water, frustration rising, Letters, July 14).
Our self-characterization as a deal-seeking, thrifty population seems to have come back to bite us in the rear. As well as knowing the value of a dollar, Manitobans also know the value of community and the need to pull together in the face of troubles and disasters; we've done this time and time again. We also know the folly of, "penny wise, pound foolish," as any drive along deteriorating city streets demonstrates to us.
This latest round of exceptional weather, probably now becoming the norm, and its attendant flooding should remind us of the need to plan and invest in the infrastructure necessary to protect, mitigate, and adapt.
So thank you Chris Kennedy, but know all of this will cost us, and we will need to have the willingness and foresight to pull together as a community for the common good.
In his letter to the editor, Gary Hook comments rightly the flooding this year "could have been so much worse" than what we have already experienced (Water, frustration rising, July 14).
However, he fails to credit the premier, the provincial government or anyone else involved in the flood fight for preventing greater damage and loss. Hook suggests Premier Greg Selinger has been acting out of self-interest and in a partisan manner, arguing he and his party hoped to capitalize on a flood catastrophe as part of their election strategy.
Only the most cynical would believe this scenario to have any credibility at all. The public record shows Selinger has gone above and beyond during this latest natural disaster.
The Free Press reported last week Selinger has also had to deal with great personal loss at the same time as he has been leading the way during this emergency.
We should be grateful to the premier and to all those who have come together in this crisis to minimize the impact of a disaster of this magnitude, and to support those who have sadly experienced losses due to the flood.
Forks plan promising
I was inspired by the recent article regarding developments at the The Forks (More than the Museum, July 14).
I had initial concerns The Forks was going to become a series of disjointed buildings, disconnected and linked by concrete. I'm relieved careful planning is taking place, including community input and clever ideas promoting city pride and tourism.
I especially like the idea of a space outside the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, where visitors can relax and contemplate the deeper meaning of the issue of human rights.
Punish distracted drivers
Manitoba Public Insurance is treating the spoiled brats who use cellphones while driving with kid gloves (Drivers won't put the brakes on cell use, July 15).
The penalty for talking or texting on your phone while driving should be impounding of the vehicle for at least six months, with the cost being thrust upon the driver.
Their driver's licence should be suspended for at least six months. Prior to reinstating the licence, the driver should be obligated to take a defensive driving course and retake their driver's exam.
The second offence would increase the impounding and pulling of the driver's licence for one year; a third offence would make it five years.
The path to Mideast peace
Re: Prospects of peace, (Letters, July 14). Leigh Halprin's comment suggesting "Palestinians love their children more than they hate Israel and its children" does little to promote understanding and dialogue that could lead to greater peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Having visited Israel and Palestine numerous times in recent years, including witnessing the challenges of Palestinian life in the West Bank, the Palestinians I know are peace-loving people who are frustrated by militant factions expressing radical thoughts and would gladly support efforts that bring about greater understanding and respect for all.
Halprin's comment about hate doesn't reflect mainstream thinking in Palestine. Let us focus on the positive efforts which reflect the majority rather then the fears of a few.
The editorial Mideast troubles -- again (July 15) incorrectly paraphrases Golda Meir.
Meir was directing her thoughts solely to the minds of the Arabs, when she said "We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us."
A street-naming alternative
Re: Ukraine poet deserves his due (Letters, July 12). So if there is special priority to recognize and honour certain living and dead Winnipeg residents, let's at least consider honouring all those who actually pay for the streets in the first place.
May I suggest Taxpayer Way, or Deep Pockets Bay? I'm sure there are many other suitable choices, but they all would suggest we the people are truly deserving of recognition before any more sports or politico types.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 16, 2014 A8
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