EDITORIAL – We can redefine the ‘Genocide’ word if we want to

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

LANGUAGE IS NOT the boss of us.

We follow its rules when they suit us. We change language through common use and misuse. The English of today is much different than it was 100 or 200 years ago.

This week, we’re changing the definition of “genocide.” Up until now, the word has referred to the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, cultural or political group.

The final report on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls uses the term “Canadian genocide” to describe the subject of the inquiry.

The term has stimulated a national debate on whether use of the word is accurate.


Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (8312 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on EDITORIAL – We can redefine the ‘Genocide’ word if we want to

  1. I totally agree. The mandate was not carried out and it is now easy to see why this inquiry had so many problems and lost many members. The extremist findings in that they called it genocide has done much more harm than good to Canada as a whole and First Nations people overall. Reconciliation has I believe actually has taken a step backwards with this inquiry’s conclusions.

  2. Yes, your comments on the use or misuse of the word genocide were right on.

  3. When you consider that the individuals responsible for Indigenous women and girls going missing and being murdered are deliberately and systematically destroying (killing off) Indigenous women and girls, the term genocide fits. While it may not fit your description or interpretation, it definitely fits the dictionary definition.

  4. David Goar // June 5, 2019 at 7:26 AM // Reply

    I believe it is vitally important to use words ( specifically words with a precise legal meaning) carefully and properly when addressing a subject as grave as this one. This committee did not do so. It, deliberately conscripted a word designed to produce an inflamed reaction. That is just what it got.

    This is not responsibly carrying out the mandate of the committee. It, therefore, subjects all of the report, and its findings and recommendations, to scepticism and cynicism.

    This is exactly the kind of hyperbole that widens the divide between Canadians and feeds the fires of populism and hatred.

    We need to come together as a people and his kind of overblown and imprecise terminology pushes us further apart.

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