What happened to missing and murdered Indigenous women was horrific, but it wasn’t genocide
by National Post Hymie Rubenstein
The report claims its use of the term is in keeping with the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. It’s not
Allegations of “genocide” have been around for so long to describe the 500 years of treatment of the New World’s first settlers by its post-Columbian explorers that there should be no surprise that it is increasingly being applied to Canada’s behaviour towards its Indigenous people.
What should be surprising is that “genocide” was employed to explain why there are proportionately more murdered and missing Indigenous women in Canada compared with their non-Indigenous counterparts. The just released Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls minces no words when it says there exists “a race-based genocide of Indigenous Peoples … empowered by colonial structures … leading directly to the current increased rates of violence, death, and suicide in Indigenous populations.”
The report also claims that its use of the “genocide” term is in keeping with the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the gold standard for determining this heinous crime against humanity around the world.
Article 2 of the UN Convention defines genocide as, “ … any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
None of these features apply to the murder or disappearance of 1,200 or more Indigenous women. These crimes, though horrific and far too numerous, were certainly not “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part” a particular racial or ethnic group by the co-ordinated efforts of some other racial or ethnic group. Nor do the organization, causes, and consequences of these murders look like they have anything in common with the genocides officially recognized by the government of Canada: the Holocaust, the Holodomor, the Armenian genocide and the Rwandan genocide.
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