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VOICES OF THE DEAD
Re Sinclair Says More Remains Will Be Found at Residential School Sites (June 2): The bones of our ancestors cry to be heard. Canadians should engage the expertise of the International Commission on Missing Persons (headquartered in The Hague) to search all sites of former residential schools. With DNA and database informatics, the ICMP locates and identifies bodies with local authorities. In the Balkans, in particular Srebrenica, they have found 70 per cent of the 40,000 reported missing from the war. Canada needs to be a signatory to the ICMP’s Declaration on the Role of the State in Addressing the Issue of Persons Missing as a Consequence of Armed Conflict and Human Rights Abuse. It is the right thing to do.
Kim Echlin, Toronto
It has long been known that children died at residential schools and were buried without notification of their families. What is different about the discovery in Kamloops is that the ghastly scale of the practice has been revealed. Ground-piercing radar has given us pictures this time. We can no longer claim the Doubting Thomas defence. The government of Sir John A. Macdonald, in its policy of “taking the Indian out of the child,” turned the job over primarily to the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches.
There was no oversight. No one made sure these children were well fed. No one made sure they were safe. If they spoke their mother tongue, they were punished. They died of exposure if they ran away. They died because of neglect. They died because their hearts were broken.
Thank goodness for the Kamloops discovery. Maybe now we can begin to heal.
Hugh McKechnie, Newmarket, Ont.
Brian Gable’s editorial cartoon on June 2, evoking an image from Schindler’s List, was the most compelling statement I have seen on the atrocities committed at residential schools. Thank you for driving home the magnitude of this blot on our history.
Esther Yermus, Toronto
NOTHING TO FEAR
Re The Liberals Give UNDRIP a Blank Cheque (Editorial, May 25) and What Does UNDRIP Stand For? (Editorial, Dec. 8): The Globe and Mail has warned its readers that they should be fearful of Bill C-15, the federal government’s proposed law to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In its editorials, however, The Globe has misrepresented both Bill C-15 and the current state of Canadian law.
Bill C-15 will not turn the Declaration into Canadian law. In Canadian legal tradition, international human rights standards have real weight in domestic law. Canadian courts and tribunals are already turning to the Declaration to help interpret domestic laws. This is what C-15 means – and explicitly states – when it affirms the Declaration as having “application in Canadian law.”
One of the key provisions of Bill C-15 is the requirement to work proactively with Indigenous peoples to identify laws that need to be changed in order to uphold Canada’s human-rights obligations. The Globe talks about “upending” existing law. A more accurate – and less inflammatory description – would be “co-operative law reform.”
If the editors are concerned about “muddying the waters,” they should make a greater effort to understand Bill C-15 before sounding the alarm.
Romeo Saganash, Former MP and author of private member’s Bill C-262 (predecessor of Bill C-15)
Re Forget Lotto Max. Let’s Try Lotto Vax (Opinion, June 1): André Picard states that we should stop fuming over unvaccinated health care workers and pay them to get their shots. I disagree. Health care workers have a duty of care, a responsibility to the well-being of their patients or clients. If, for personal reasons, they choose not to get vaccinated, then they should find other work. Health care workers who continue to refuse vaccines should be dismissed.
Bernard Goldman CM, MD, FRCSC, Emeritus Professor of Surgery (Cardiac), University of Toronto
André Picard always gets it right. Action must be taken to ensure full vaccination of all Canadians. As distasteful as it is to have to pander to irrational non-compliance with clear scientific and medical policy during a crisis, let’s do it. Drag out the treats and lures to get reluctant folks into the clinics. This could prevent the need for punitive measure such as fines, taxes, exclusions and other penalties.
Jill Kannegiesser, Toronto
Strategic and targeted incentives can impact human behaviour in profound ways. Our national vaccination effort will get its greatest boost when the federal government announces the end of mandatory quarantines for vaccinated travellers.
Andreas Souvaliotis, Toronto
HEALING AND THE ARTS
Re Ontario Performers Seek Public’s Help In Getting Reopening ‘Fairness’ From Province (May 31): Governments around the world face real challenges in knowing when and how to reopen the arts, but it’s also vital to recognize the enormous contribution the arts make to reuniting communities after this kind of divisive trauma.
I’m sorry to see Ontario taking an approach so much more restrictive than many other governments. Not even allowing closed-venue rehearsals or streaming without audiences is cutting Ontarians off from engagement with the arts just when they most need it.
Experience in other countries shows that there are safe ways to allow artists to start reconnecting with their audiences and communities. I urge Ontario to reconsider its position.
Anthony Sargent CBE, former chief executive officer of Luminato Festival, Toronto, (current address: Newcastle upon Tyne, England)
PRICE OF FAME
Re Tennis Is Destined For A Mental-health Moment (Sports, June 1): Excuse me for feeling little sympathy for Naomi Osaka. Ms. Osaka would not be the world’s highest-paid female athlete if not for the glare of media attention. Part in parcel of dealing with the overbearing media is the outlandish compensation she receives. Do journalists need to do better? Sure. But, for goodness sake, let’s put things in perspective.
Alex Treiber, Toronto
Re Edmonton’s CFL Franchise Changes Team Name to Elks (Sports, June 2): I am having serious trouble wrapping my head around the thought of any pro sports team, let alone a CFL football club, wishing to be known as a prey animal.
Not only is elk meat a delicacy for human diners worldwide, it is also on the menu in the wild for bears, wolves, cougars, coyotes and even, occasionally, eagles.
Edmonton’s storied CFL franchise has gone from a name celebrating Canada’s toughest and most enduring peoples, to a name that will be ridiculed whenever the team is defeated, with headlines such as “Elks roasted by Argos” or “Elks devoured by Lions.”
I find it appalling that such a silly name has been chosen.
Dale Wiese, Vancouver (CFL lover for 53 years)
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