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Genocides distinct, complex

Re: Canadian policies don't meet 'genocide test' (July 16). As a genocide scholar working in the tradition of Raphael Lemkin, I assume the creator of the term "genocide" knows a thing or two about the concept he wanted to bring to the world, and he spent his life advocating and researching. Although Lemkin drafted the United Nations Genocide Convention, his definition was diluted by the nations of the world, sometimes for what were practical reasons, but other times for clearly political reasons.

In his opinion piece, Michael Melanson compares the Holocaust to First Nations history in Canada at several points in his article. While I have not heard this equivalence drawn by any genocide scholars, some might be more inclined to share Melanson's view of Canadian history. However, most scholars tend to see each instance of genocide as distinct, even if we look to also find some commonalities across diverse cases.

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Melanson fails to acknowledge the complexity of the Nazi genocidal machine. Again turning to Lemkin, in his eyes the Nazis sought the genocidal destruction of many groups through a diversity of methods that extended beyond mass murder. Thus, with respect to the Holocaust, one should not ignore that for Lemkin non-murderous acts such as the destruction of synagogues and the theft of wealth and property were also part of the genocidal process.

I take Melanson's point about where use of the term "genocide" leaves us in terms of reconciliation very seriously. But reconciliation can't simply be reconciliation as another form of assimilation. To make our way to a shared future, we need to address how our past relations created conditions that threatened the very survival of indigenous groups. Genocide, rather than wielded as a term of prosecution -- as Melanson clearly sees it -- can be a tool of evaluation for understanding what has gone wrong up to now, and for how we might establish right relations.

Andrew Woolford



Renewing, enhancing Hydro

Further to Steve McMahon's call to Fix Hydro infrastructure (Letters, July 15), Manitoba Hydro is well aware of the need to renew and enhance our existing distribution system.

The system that served Manitoba well for decades now needs a shot in the arm to continue meeting the province's needs. Much of the infrastructure used to deliver electricity to our customers was built many decades ago, and is now getting old and more costly to maintain.

This is why we are investing to renew and enhance our existing system, improving reliability and meeting increased demand for electricity. New substations, distribution lines, manholes and power poles are all part of our program of "re-powering Manitoba."

Scott Powell

Division manager, public affairs

Manitoba Hydro


Helping emergency workers

Re: His answer to pain: suicide (July 17). Early mandatory intervention in the form of defusings or debriefings is an evidence-based method of supporting any individual who is exposed to a critical incident of some kind.

Providing an opportunity to process the incident from a cognitive level to a deeper emotional level can help mitigate the cumulative effect of critical incidents, thereby possibly preventing a myriad of mental health illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. All employers of those who are more at risk (including military, paramedics, firefighters, law enforcement and health-care providers) have an obligation to provide early intervention programs.

Devoting resources late in the process is like trying to treat metastatic cancer when early detection is what was really needed. Immediate intervention for critical-incident response, in high-risk occupations, should be the standard operating procedure.

Thank you to the Barker family for sharing your story in the hope of helping others. As a family, you mirror Ken's tremendous gift of caring deeply for others.

Trish Bergal



There was all the help in the world for Vince Li, but no help for Ken Barker -- at least nothing that would have worked for him or anybody with PTSD.

Yet Vince Li's life goes on, and will eventually be walking the street. Li is now responsible for two deaths.

Diana Frantz



Conservation funding needed

I applaud Manitoba's efforts to maintain and establish provincial parks; more protected areas will help bring revenue to the province through the creation of new jobs and tourism (Province praised for proposed polar bear park, July 15).

There are still many problems that exist, most notably the lack of funding provided to key areas of conservation within provincial parks, leaving valuable scientific research and monitoring without assistance.

Funding helps ensure ecological sustainability and conservation, particularly for Manitoba's at-risk species.

While the province has made great strides with TomorrowNow, more needs to be done at the provincial and federal levels to ensure funds are allocated to fix existing infrastructure and support ecological integrity.

Alana Wilcox



Saying no to nuclear waste

A big bravo to Eileen Linklater for opposing nuclear waste storage (Northern band says 'no' to nuclear waste, July 17).

Linklater is spot on -- it's all about the almighty dollar for the corporations, and not a few measly jobs they use to sell their ideas.

If nuclear-waste storage is such a good idea and so safe, put it in the Winnipeg landfill.

Mary Jones



Building a better bridge

Given all the problems the province has with highway bridges during and after floods, why do they keep building the same type of bridges over and over again? Why aren't they building arched bridges?

As an example of longevity, there is the Simpson Street Bridge in Thunder Bay, Ont., which was built in 1910, requires minimum upkeep and is in constant daily use.

Arched bridges go back to Roman times, and are considered the strongest form of construction.

William Balacko


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 18, 2014 A10

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