Finding Dawn Response

It’s Saturday, the air is fresh, the sky is clear blue, it feels like Spring, and I’m taking some holidays…but I’m angry.

I’m angry because Thursday night, for the screening of the National Film Board’s, "Finding Dawn," all the media were a few blocks away pressing up to Stephen Harper while on International Women’s Day not one reporter was on hand to cover this event.

I’m angry because while the theatre was almost full, there were only a handful of white males.

I’m angry because we missed an opportunity to hear Janice Acoose, herself a generational victim of our "Christian colonialist" culture. Janice, a former "street worker," a victim of abuse at the hands of white and native men, has fought her way into and through University and is now a professor, author and Native activist.

Janice Acoose

I’m angry because we missed hearing Dawn Hodgins, a survivor of the street, a survivor of an attempted murder at the hands of a John, who now channels her own anger into a fiery hope as Project Co-ordinator for the Prostitution Awareness & Action Foundation of Edmonton (PAAFE).

Dawn Hodgins

And I’m angry because we missed Margo Pariseau who with the serenity born of being at peace with herself quietly weaved her own story of hope born of tragedy. Margo Pariseau is now an Aboriginal consultant for the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women.

Margo Pariseau

But that’s me. Here’s a response from a woman that attended the event, who later wrote to writer-director Christine Welsh:

Hello Christine, I have never felt so compelled to write to someone that I don’t know. I don’t even know what I want to say but I need to somehow acknowledge what I am feeling.

I was captivated by your film Finding Dawn last night and I was moved in so many ways. I wept quietly through out the film as I grieved with those parents and communities and individuals who have suffered on a daily basis and have also had to endure the thoughts that no one cares about them or their loved one who is lost or missing.

But I care. I always have. Have I acted? No. Maybe that was another reason I cried.

Some things that have happened to these women are so brutal and evil that I can’t bear to speak about them and maybe there in lies the problem. At the end of the showing in Edmonton last night, one of the audience stood up and acknowledged the power of your film and also stated that she was the mother of Nina Courtepatte, who is a child that was murdered a year ago.

For me that was the tipping point. I have been sleepless over her murder yet cannot follow the court proceedings or read a single detail. I wake up nightly from a restless sleep feeling she is my murdered child. Yet I can not bear to even mention her name to anyone as it makes me physically sick to think about. And I want to scream literally at the top of my lungs at the injustice and the brutality. But I am silent.

As I lay in bed last night replaying your film in my head I thought of all the names from the film that I could remember: Dawn, Ramona, Dayleen…and I said them out loud. Then I understood that those missing and murdered women are my daughters, my sisters, my mothers, my aunts and my grandmothers. Who am I protecting by keeping the violence in silence? It is a message that needs to be heard and I can no longer remain scared and silent.

I am not the same woman I was last night before the film. I am much more powerful. Thank you. (Christine M.)


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1 Comment

  1. Like Steve, I’m angry, and like Christine M., I wept…but unlike the women in the film and the women of the panel who have managed to channel their pain and anger and temper it with hope, I must confess that I feel pessimism. Change must come, but the powerful, the weatlhy, the abusers — and sometimes even other women — don’t get it. And I don’t know they ever will.
    And as long as our middle class keeps heading in the direction of the US’s, as long as the gap between the haves and have-nots — the powerful and the powerless — keeps growing, this kind of desperate pain will continue.

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