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The Debate Is on About 'Genocide'

What word describes it?
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2019 7:11 PM CDT
Images of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.   (YouTube)
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(Newser) – A national inquiry in Canada found that its policies were tantamount to "genocide" against Indigenous women and girls, who have suffered violence for decades. Now, the debate is on. "The men who killed Indigenous women were not génocidaires set on destroying a group," writes Erna Paris at the Globe & Mail. "They were commonplace domestic criminals—murderers and predators who ought not to have been elevated to fit a paradigm." She notes that genocide "is a legal term" referring to (in the UN's words) "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious or national group." Lately, she says, the word is "almost like a Twitter hashtag." For other takes:

  • "...We often think of genocide as the Holocaust, the killings in Africa or elsewhere," says Marion Buller, who headed the inquiry, per AFP. "But the type of genocide we have in Canada is ... death by a million paper cuts for generations."
  • The murder of Indigenous women amounts to "a personal and family misfortune," writes Hymie Rubenstein at the National Post. "But these tragedies are not a genocide; they are the sadly expected result of the domestic pathologies that are reality for too many Aboriginal Canadians: isolation, broken homes, family trauma, abuse, addictions and the hopelessness of inter-generational welfare dependence."
  • "The inescapable conclusion of all their harrowing and beautiful testimony is that 'genocide' is the only word for the state-enabled deaths of thousands of sisters, aunties, grandmothers, cousins and friends," writes Tanya Talaga at the Toronto Star. "So why won’t our prime minister say it? What’s he afraid of?"
  • That was Monday; on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, "We accept their findings, including that what happened amounts to genocide," per the CBC.
  • But Trudeau carefully used past tense when the inquiry was "talking very explicitly about the present," writes Evan Dyer at the CBC. "They wrote that Canada has pursued 'a continuous policy ... to destroy Indigenous peoples physically, biologically, and as social units.'"
  • "Canada finally acknowledged the genocide against Indigenous women," says Courtney Skye at the Washington Post. "Now it's time to act."
(Click for more on the original report.)

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