LETTER: Calling Canadian colonialism genocide is accurate

Editor: Re: Term ‘genocided’ offensive, NOW letters, Aug. 3

I am writing to you in response to Eva Derton’s letter in the Aug. 3 edition of the NOW. We can all agree that the Holocaust was an atrocity and it is unfortunate that the term genocide elicits negative feelings for Ms. Derton due to the traumatic events inflicted on her family. 

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However, what she and many of our fellow Canadians fail to realize is that Indigenous people (who also didn’t do anything wrong) have indeed suffered a genocide of their own. 

In a letter sent to the UN special rapporteur on Indigenous rights, the authors, including a former CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, highlight these incidences: starving First Nations to death during the Western expansion of European settlers, the entire residential school system and the Sixties Scoop. 

All of which meet the definition for genocide set out in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. 

To this day, Indigenous people are still being mistreated with a disproportionate amount of children taken from their families and put in the foster care system. 

Many of the reserves nationwide do not even have access to safe drinking water for crying out loud. So rather than resenting Ms. Tatel’s choice of words, perhaps Ms. Derton could consider respecting them. And respecting the fact that we live on unceded Indigenous lands, which includes the territories of the Musqueam, Skxwú7mesh, Stó:lo, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. I, for one, am grateful to Ms. Tatel and all of those fighting to preserve the land for my children and future generations to come. 

Jennifer Yamagata, Burnaby

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