Sunday, April 28, 2013

Incomplete Thought on Cultural Genocide

From Evernote:

Incomplete Thought on Cultural Genocide

I'm bugged by something I've read recently.  The question of cultural genocide came up again, this time by former Prime Minister Paul Martin.  At the Montreal event for the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, he argued that the residential school system was an act of cultural genocide.  I know that I've written about cultural genocide before, related to former Minister Duncan's comments that the system wasn't cultural genocide.  I argued that it was but my thinking has evolved a little and the question I have is this: What is cultural genocide?  

According to Article II, of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

The Indian Act and all the attendant systemic policies were acts of genocide, not cultural genocide.  More to the point, I have not been able to find an adequate definition of cultural genocide.  The use of the term, undefined is a means by which politicians and leaders are able to lessen the impact of the idea of genocide.  Canada didn't commit genocide but it did commit cultural genocide.  It's the nation-building myth reprised to acknowledge some guilt but not culpability with the real crime.

We do a disservice to our children by not facing the truth of this.  As ever, your thoughts are appreciated.  Can you define cultural genocide satisfactorily?  How do we bring this into our classrooms honestly?  I will be thinking on this a bit, I think.

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