LETTER – Saying Canada committed genocide sounds like Mad Hatter

Re: Editorial, ‘We can redefine the Genocide word if we want to’

As much as I have agreed with and admired your sense over the years, I must part with you on the position you have taken on the use of the term ”genocide” with respect to Canadian history.

Although the term was coined in relatively recent times — post World -War II — its roots refer to the deliberate, planned, state-sanctioned killing (cide) of a specific race, type, or species  (geno). To put Canada in the same category as Hitler, Eichmann and their ilk  is not just inaccurate, it is insulting — to scholarship, to history, and to the nation..   Perhaps the sensitivity of your heritage contributed to this view?

I, as a Canadian of Scots and Irish descent, view such things as England’s Corn Laws of the 1800s as deliberate, genocidal attempts to eradicate those Celtic races via starvation.  Canada has no such history.

To argue that Canada committed genocide is to adopt the intellectual fluidity of the Mad Hatter in insisting that words
mean precisely what we want them to mean, when we want them to, regardless of common understanding, cultural/intellectual precedent, and literary convention.

Let us call hyperbole when we see it. It is all around us.

I suggest  a better word for the situation at issue would be “sociocide,” the eradication of a culture.  And have not all invaders done that?  Had they not done so, they would have been little more than unsuccessful travellers who abandoned their own heritage.  There is no history of such groups. Or rather, they are called “losers”, or “the conquered.”

Despite Canada’s clumsy, shoddy, even negligent history of dealing with indigenous peoples, including the attempted eradication of cultural practices, there has been no official attempt to achieve that goal by the murder of individuals or groups of individuals.

Ironically, Canada’s indigenous tribes waged genuinely genocidal wars against each other.  Canada tried, on a cultural/educational level, to take the Indian out of the child, not to kill the child.  And it is a matter of record  that a majority of murdered native women were murdered by native men.  Was that genocide? We are now into the realm of silly.

Thanks for your time.


About Mel Rothenburger (6879 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.

1 Comment on LETTER – Saying Canada committed genocide sounds like Mad Hatter

  1. Jennie Stadnichuk // June 10, 2019 at 2:41 PM // Reply

    Perhaps some research by Mr Graham might give him some insight to using the word Genocide in regards to Canada’s historical treatment of Indigenous peoples. First, consider our first Prime Minister John A Macdonald and his spoken word on the subject. Another Government appointee to work ‘with’ the Indians (the terminology then): Duncan Campbell Scott as Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs from 1913 until 1932, took the groundwork of Macdonald’s legacy of repressive policies towards the Indigenous peoples. Neither of these men had benign intentions. Here is a clip from such research: “Until There Is Not a Single Indian in Canada”. Research and many books will reveal much more solid information.

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