Friday, April 26

Hot Docs Review: The Exhibition


Kristal Cooper

pamela masik

In 2006, artist Pamela Masik began a massive undertaking. She started painting large-scale portraits inspired by a police poster of 69 women—many of them Aboriginal, all of them prostitutes or drug addicts— who went missing from the streets of Vancouver and, as police investigation finally proved, were murdered on Robert Pickton’s farm. Her purpose for deciding to steer away from her more traditional, money-making art pieces and take on a project like this was to shed light on a population of women who were the victims of a systemically racist and sexist society that continues to minimize violence against them. The paintings were startling to look at and occasionally gruesome but Masik insisted that she was only trying to highlight the harsh treatment these women endured during their short lives. While many people applauded her efforts and some of the victims’ family members stod behind her, activist groups became outraged, accusing Masik of exploiting her subjects in order to further her career. A planned exhibit was cancelled and the paintings went into storage. Should the victims be allowed to rest in peace or is this a case of them being silenced yet again?

This is a pretty fascinating documentary if only because of the way it tackles the violence against women issue. The story of Masik and her paintings is shown within the context of the botched Pickton investigation and resulting inquiry which only reinforces her idea that these women were never treated as worthwhile simply because they were East Vancouver residents and known prostitutes and drug addicts (“Imagine if 69 women went missing in West Vancouver?” she wonders at one point). Her intentions, if maybe slightly self-serving, are also clearly pure as she pours her heart and soul into the project, only to have it dismissed by activist groups because she’s ‘an affluent white woman’. The great thing about the film is that it gives you a fair-minded representation of each side of the argument and it will definitely inpsire some great discussion after the credits roll.

Is The Exhibition Essential Hot Docs Viewing?

Definitely. The Pickton case and Masik’s artwork when looked at from a feminist perspective is incredibly intriguing and it will stay with you long after you leave the theatre.

The Exhibition Screening Times
The Exhibition Trailer

B.C. Conservatives drop candidate over 'insensitive and disrespectful' comments about single mothers


Mischa Popoff was the B.C. Conservative Candidate for Boundary-Similkameen

Photograph by: Handout, *

For the second time in two days, the B.C. Conservative Party has removed a candidate over comments it considered unacceptable.

Mischa Popoff, who was running in Boundary-Similkameen, lost his position Thursday night after The Vancouver Sun revealed statements from him deriding the Missing Women Inquiry as a waste of time and criticizing single mothers for having children “without a man by their side.”

“Mr. Popoff’s various comments were insensitive and disrespectful, particularly to women and single mothers who are, in fact, heroes to their children and their communities in many cases,” said a party news release issued late Thursday.

“ We are a party that believes in a respectful airing of views. Mr. Popoff’s statements were unacceptable and he has been removed as a candidate.”

On Wednesday, Ian Tootill was booted as the Tory candidate in Vancouver-False Creek over comments he posted on social media. The Sun had reported earlier that on his Twitter account last October, Tootill asked: “Who’s really to blame? Hitler or the people who acted on his words?”

Popoff, nominated in March for the Okanagan riding, writes newspaper opinion pieces that appear regularly in Kelowna, Osoyoos and Vernon.

In March 2012, he wrote: “No one can blame a woman who experiences divorce or abandonment after having kids. The issue is with women who enter parenthood with their eyes wide open without a man by their side, either by using a man to get pregnant or through a sperm bank.”

“In either case, unless they’re very well off, the kids they bestow upon this world are headed for disaster. Why applaud, let alone condone this?”

On the Missing Women Inquiry, he wrote: “No one wants prostitutes to go missing. But guess what? They do, and no inquiry is going to change that.”

In February of this year, the Osoyoos Times quoted him as appearing to argue in favour of people having assault rifles.

“I hope you understand we don’t want just anyone to be able to buy a military grade assault rifle, but if trained to handle that, please tell me why is a policeman or a soldier any more qualified than you or me?”

In an interview Thursday, Popoff said the assault rifle comment was taken out of context, but that he stands by everything else he has said.

“In journalism, especially if you’re a columnist, you better be provocative or else you might as well write recipes or do the food column,” he said. “If you’re not provocative, why bother writing?”

The party identifies Popoff in his online bio as a columnist and author of the book, Is it Organic? as well as a policy adviser at The Heartland Institute, a non-profit research agency established in Chicago in 1984 that aims to develop and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems.

He’s also a research associate with The Frontier Centre for Public Policy, which describes itself as an independent Western Canada-based public policy think-tank.

On guns, Popoff said he was using an example of Switzerland — where he said every person goes through military training and is able to keep their rifle — as an example of why long guns should be acceptable in Canada.

“That was an explanation of how people in completely peaceful countries like Israel, Norway and Switzerland — you’re probably guaranteed there’s a military assault rifle in every home,” he said.

“I was just making that point, that we’re worried (in Canada) about the long guns that farmers and hunters already have in their homes,” he said, adding those weapons do not have the automatic capacity of assault rifles that can unload bullets in a steady stream.

Popoff stood by his comments on single mothers, saying he thinks women should be strongly discouraged from deliberately having children on their own.

“That’s proven disastrous through demographics,” he said.

“Rather than frown upon this or discourage it, it’s celebrated. The single mom is a hero and that gets dangerous, I think.”

On the Missing Women Inquiry, he said he believes judicial inquiries in Canada are “usually a waste of time.”

“Inquiries in Canada can go on for years,” he said, adding they are not allowed to assign blame.

“Give me a break. If there’s someone to blame then blame them.”

The B.C. Conservative Party did not respond to a request for comment. In March, when Popoff was nominated, leader John Cummins said Popoff and another candidate nominated on the same day, were “vitally interested in the future of our province, and they’ll be exceptional representatives for their constituents in Victoria.”

Boundary-Similkameen is held by former Liberal MLA John Slater, who is not running in the current election.

Here are excerpts of comments by Mischa Popoff:

Theresa Spence would in all likelihood face charges if it weren’t for the accident of her birth. She makes just under $70,000 a year, tax free, as chief of the Attawapiskat Indian reserve, she pays her boyfriend $850 a day, also tax free, to be Attawapiskat’s town manager, and between the two of them they can’t seem to account for the better part of a whopping $90 million that her reserve has received since 2006.

But, like a spoiled member of a public-service union to whom the rules don’t apply, Spence has decided to go on a fake hunger strike to draw attention to the plight of her people who, thanks in large part to her and her boyfriend, are forced to live in homes that should be condemned.

Kelowna Daily Courier, Jan. 21, 2013

I hope you understand we don’t want just anyone to be able to buy a military grade assault rifle, but if trained to handle that, please tell me why is a policeman or a soldier any more qualified than you or me?

Osoyoos Times, Feb. 14, 2013

This newspaper notwithstanding, most people in the media are reluctant to even entertain the possibility that single moms are anything less than saintly. Sure, some are. No one can blame a woman who experiences divorce or abandonment after having kids. The issue is with women who enter parenthood with their eyes wide open without a man by their side, either by using a man to get pregnant or through a sperm bank. In either case, unless they’re very well off, the kids they bestow upon this world are headed for disaster. Why applaud, let alone condone this?

Kelowna Daily Courier, March 26, 2012

No one wants prostitutes to go missing. But guess what? They do, and no inquiry is going to change that. There’s a lack of leadership on issues like this these days. Whether it’s the top-brass at the Vancouver police, politicians or a wide swath of people in the media, no one is willing to risk offending the swarm of publicly funded activists and say what needs to be said: prostitution is, by its very nature, a serious social problem.

Kelowna Daily Courier, Oct. 24, 2011

And so, I remain skeptical of Darwin’s theory. I believe it should be taught, but not as fact, and alternative theories should be taught alongside.

The Daily Courier (Vernon), Sept. 26, 2011

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Hot Docs Review: The Exhibition - Toronto Film Scene | Toronto Film Scene

Hot Docs Review: The Exhibition - Toronto Film Scene | Toronto Film Scene: "Hot Docs Review: The Exhibition"

'via Blog this'

Thursday, April 25

Post columnist wins civil liberties award for investigative reporting on Missing Women inquiry

National Post Staff | 13/04/25 11:46 PM ET

The National Post’s B.C. columnist, Brian Hutchinson, is being awarded the Liberty Award of Excellence in Journalism by the BC Civil Liberties Association. Two Postmedia News writers are also being awarded this year’s Michener Award for public service journalism, while Postmedia News is being recognized for its overall journalistic excellence.

The BC Civil Liberties Association award is dedicated to recognizing “exceptional contributions to the fields of human rights and civil liberties in Canada.” The group’s board had singled out Mr. Hutchinson’s leading work in reporting on the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, in which Mr. Hutchinson exposed many serious problems within the commission itself. It also recognized Mr. Hutchinson’s continuing investigative work in stories focusing on police accountability and deaths of citizens while inside the justice system.

The award will be presented at a gala on June 12, 2013.

Meanwhile, Postmedia News journalists Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher, and theOttawa Citizen, have been shortlisted for the Michener Award for public service journalism for uncovering the 2011 federal election robocalls scandal.


In early 2012, Mr. McGregor and Mr. Maher of Postmedia News reported that deceptive robocalls claiming to be from Elections Canada had tricked some voters into going to the wrong polling sites on election day the previous year, missing a chance to vote.

Commissioner of Canada Elections Yves Côté has since recommended laying charges over some of the misleading robocalls.

Governor General David Johnston will host the Michener Awards ceremony at Rideau Hall on June 18.

Also Thursday, Postmedia News was shortlisted for the Canadian Journalism Foundation’s Excellence in Journalism Award.

The award is not given for one particular story, but recognizes overall “accuracy, independence, accountability to the audience, courage and originality.”

National Post

Monday, April 15

Trial for man charged with Bosse murder delayed another year

Accused requests seventh lawyer

Reported by Bre McAdam

First Posted: Apr 15, 2013 11:49am | Last Updated: Apr 15, 2013 6:04pm

A long-awaited murder trial in Saskatoon will possibly be delayed another year as the man charged with the first-degree murder of Daleen Bosse requested his seventh lawyer in Saskatoon Court of Queen's Bench Monday.
The trial for Douglas Hales, 34, was scheduled to begin Monday.  Now, it has been tentatively set for February 2014 to give his new Regina-based lawyer, Bob Hrycan, time to review the file.

"When I think of the delay, what I'm thinking about is the effect that this is having on the family of Daleen Bosse, and my heart goes out to them," Crown prosecutor Robin Ritter said outside the courthouse.

He could not provide a reason for Hales' need to change lawyers, but said this is one of the longest-delayed cases he's ever experienced.

None of Bosse's family members were present during Hales' brief court appearance.

The 25-year-old University of Saskatchewan student disappeared from Jax Nite Club on May 18, 2004.
Her body was discovered north of Saskatoon in 2008. In addition to the murder charge, Hales is also charged with offering an indignity to human remains after he allegedly burned Bosse's body.

Sunday, April 14

My Book of Life by Angel

by Martine Leavitt

After a brief return to romantic high fantasy with 2006’s Keturah and Lord Death, Martine Leavitt turns her sights to her other forte: troubled youth in gritty contemporary settings. And while it doesn’t get much grittier than teen prostitutes working the so-called “kiddie stroll” on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside at the time of the Pickton murders, the Alberta-born author handles the subject with uncommon grace.

Leavitt has always been something of a style virtuoso. In her fantasy novels she harnesses Arthurian-era language and rhythms to offset the sting of her often-dark themes. In My Book of Life by Angel, however, she uses minimalist blank verse to rich effect in telling the story of Angel, a 16-year-old, middle-class runaway coerced into addiction and sex work.

As in Leavitt’s other novels about kids on the street – the Mr. Christie Award–winning Tom Finder (2003) and Governor General’s Literary Award finalist Heck Superhero (2004) – our protagonist is separated from the safe harbour of home by a matter of degrees, though psychologically she might as well be on the moon. The duality of life on the street, open yet prisonlike in its inescapability, is one of the many paradoxes the novel subtly explores. Another is the literal and metaphoric “hole” Angel blames for her circumstances. The holes in her mother’s bones (osteoporosis) came first, but it was an undetected hole in her mother’s heart that killed her, leaving Angel feeling a void of her own: “Serena said, / that put a hole in you, Angel, / which you tried to fill up with Call.”

Call, who refers to himself as a businessman and dresses in such a way that “he could walk into an office / and nobody would blink,” offers yet another paradox.  Lurking under the respectable clothes is a predatory pimp with a bloodhound’s nose for susceptibility (“renewable resources” is his answer when Angel asks him what business he’s in).

After her mother dies, a rudderless Angel hangs out at the mall, playing an unexpectedly poignant adolescent version of house:

the cinnamon bun smell
was Mom making them for me
and the clothing stores were my
walk-in closets
and the ice cream place was my freezer
and the bathroom was my bathroom
When she gets caught shoplifting display shoes from her pretend closet it’s the lupine Call who steps in like a hero, offering first a sympathetic ear and free lunch, then the “candy” that “makes the missing of mom [go] away.”

Angel’s bereft father, driven to despair by his daughter’s shoplifting and drug use, watches “with given-up eyes” as she packs to go live with Call. At his seedy apartment, kisses and sweet talk soon give way to entreaties: Call needs money to get more of the candy Angel likes so much, the candy she now needs to not feel sick. Angel says yes and senses, as she does so, a door slamming shut behind her. Assent, she realizes, has made her a “word,” and “my dad would never allow a word like me.” Once he has “made” her, Call blocks any possibility of Angel’s escape by threatening to harm her younger brother, Jeremy. Despite their brief appearances in the narrative, Angel’s father and brother remain powerful presences throughout – further examples of how Leavitt harnesses absence to great effect.

On the street, Angel encounters a wide range of humanity, each with peccadillos to match. “Poetry, that is twisted,” says Call of “John the john,” who pays Angel to read from Milton’s Paradise Lost. Word is also out about sinister Mr. P who drives a van with tinted windows that girls enter but never seem to emerge from. Angel wonders if Mr. P could be behind the recent disappearance of her friend Serena.

“Mr. P” refers to Robert Pickton, the real-life convicted killer implicated in the deaths of 49 women who disappeared from the Downtown Eastside in the 1980s and ’90s. Leavitt dedicates the novel to Pickton’s victims, but sensibly leaves the gruesome details to an afterword in which she provides background information. 

“My Book of Life by Angel” is the title Angel gives to the notebook she buys after Serena goes missing. In it, she vows to honour her friend by cleaning up her act and getting back to her family. But it’s not until Call brings home Melli, an 11-year-old “baby” from a place called “Group Home,” that Angel concocts a risky plan she hopes will bring about some kind of escape.

Leavitt probes an exceptionally difficult, raw topic without resorting to cliché or melodrama. The nuance, economy, and delicacy with which she renders both the uniqueness and universality of Angel’s story is such that it’s easy not to notice that the novel contains no graphic sex or even swearing. In trying to illustrate how good this book is, it’s tempting to simply quote every line. Best just to read it and experience for yourself Leavitt’s remarkably powerful achievement.

Reviewed by Emily Donaldson (from the October 2012 issue)

Corbella: Rehtaeh Parsons' death tarnishes RCMP


A woman holds a photo as several hundred people attend a community vigil to remember Rehtaeh Parsons at Victoria Park in Halifax on Thursday, April 11, 2013. The girl’s family says she ended her own life last week following months of bullying after she was allegedly sexually assaulted by four boys and a photo of the incident was distributed.

Photograph by: Andrew Vaughan, THE CANADIAN PRESS

Rehtaeh Parsons' devastated father asked the question. Her mother asked the question. Prime Minister Stephen Harper asked the question. Thousands, and maybe millions, of Canadians have asked themselves the question. And now the Nova Scotia government is going to hold an inquiry to find an answer to the question as to why police in Nova Scotia didn't treat the alleged gang rape of the 17-year-old Cole Harbour girl more seriously.

Rehtaeh's devastated parents, like virtually everyone else in this country, are asking why and how it could take the RCMP 10 months before they even interviewed any of the four boys who allegedly raped Rehtaeh. It is alleged that about 18 months ago, when Rehtaeh was just 15, she drank straight vodka at the house of some boys she barely knew, got sick, was semi-conscious and was then sexually assaulted by four boys who took a photo of the assault and then posted it online. She was subsequently bullied relentlessly, moved schools and cities, and ended up committing suicide.

How come no child pornography charges were laid after the offending photos of her were posted on Face-book pages and sent via text to numerous people?

Rehtaeh's father, Glen Canning, put it best in his beautifully written memorial to his daughter:

"Why was this treated like a minor incident of bullying rather than a rape?" he asked.

"Isn't the production and distribution of child porn a crime in this country? Numerous people were emailed that photo. The police have that information (or at least they told us they did). When someone claims they were raped is it normal to wait months before talking to the accused?"

In an absolutely wrenching line he points out: "My daughter wasn't bullied to death, she was disappointed to death. Disappointed in people she thought she could trust, her school and the police."

Rehtaeh's mom, Leah Parsons, said: "I don't understand why it would take 10 months to interview the boys. By that time, their story is locked down solid, instead of getting them immediately and separating them."

While in Calgary on Thursday to rename a centre for victims of child abuse after former NHL hockey player Sheldon Kennedy, the prime minister echoed the questions Reh-taeh's parents asked.

"I can just tell you, you know Laureen and I, as a parent of a teenage daughter, you're just sickened seeing a story like this.

"I think we've got to stop using just the term bullying to describe some of these things. Bullying to me has a kind of connotation ... of kids misbehaving. What we are dealing with in some of these circumstances is simply criminal activity. It is youth criminal activity, it is violent criminal activity, it is sexual criminal activity and it is often Internet criminal activity," said Harper.

"And obviously we are looking at ways to combat this and to deal with it when it happens ..."

Well, if Harper really wants to do something, he can start by shaking up the leadership of the utterly incompetent RCMP.

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson has not said a peep even though this is not the first time something like this has happened - not by a long shot.

Last year, the Coquitlam RCMP did nothing to help 15-year-old Amanda Todd, who had a topless photo of her posted on the Internet by a grown man who coerced her to pose for him online.

Like Rehtaeh (which is Heather spelled backwards) Amanda, who was the victim of a sexual predator, was victimized again by her peers who beat her up, called her a slut and ostracized her online and in person, leading her to commit suicide.

Janet Merlo, a former RCMP police officer who has launched a class-action lawsuit against the organization, says while she is heartbroken over how Rehtaeh was treated by the iconic police force, she is not in the least bit surprised.

"It's no wonder that the RCMP didn't take this girl's rape seriously. Look how they treat their own members who complain of sexual assault and sexual harassment," said Merlo, who was reached in Newfoundland, where she now lives with her two daughters.

"That's why 300 women RCMP officers have joined this class-action lawsuit with (law firm) Klein Lyons to help make a change in the attitudes and practices of the RCMP with how it treats harass-W ment and abuse of women," said Merlo.

"Women are still 100 years behind the times as far as the RCMP is concerned and I have no doubt that (Rehtaeh) was probably dismissed and they probably had a chuckle about it and thought, oh well, she went looking for it. I don't know, but that they don't take it seriously is not at all surprising," she said on Thursday night.

Merlo alleges that she suffered sexual harassment, bullying and verbal abuse throughout her 19-year career, most of it spent in Nanaimo, B.C., before she had to quit in March 2010 - from "a career she loved" - as a result of the unaddressed abuse she endured.

"I worked with hundreds of wonderful guys, but the public must demand that the RCMP is held to account, because they investigate themselves and they never find any wrongdoing, they sweep their abuse or incompetence under the rug and the victims are left dismissed - and that's what's happened to this young girl and it cost her life."

Merlo is right. Accountability is virtually nonexistent in the RCMP. After Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski was Tasered to death at Vancouver International Airport, RCMP claimed they were attacked. Amateur video of Dzieka-nski's killing proved that to be a lie. It took years before the officers involved were charged with perjury.

The inquiry into the case of Robert Willie Pickton, who was convicted of murdering six Vancouver-area women, but is believed to have killed 20 more, revealed mountains of RCMP incompetence in that case.

In Alberta alone, the list of botched RCMP investigations is staggering and at least one has led to a lawsuit against the force. Three men and a boy who previously were charged with shooting a pregnant wild horse near Sundre are suing the RCMP for malicious prosecution and negligent investigation. In short, the RCMP took as gospel the word of two drug addicts who were seeking reward money into the killings of wild horses in the area. The facts in the case expose breathtaking ineptitude.

The RCMP in Nova Scotia refuse to say why it took so long to even interview the boys who allegedly boasted of raping Rehtaeh.

RCMP spokesman Cpl. Scott MacRae initially said: "In consultation with the Crown, there was insufficient evidence to lay charges."

But is that at all surprising? If you wait 10 months before interviewing the boys, any physical evidence would be long gone. Also, had the RCMP, along with the Halifax Regional Police who were also involved in the investigation, interviewed the boys as soon as Rehtaeh had reported the assault just days after the photo surfaced, maybe one of the boys would have confessed. Months later, that's much less likely.

On Friday, Nova Scotia RCMP are now saying they have reopened their investigation after receiving what they called "new and credible information." That's good news, but were it not for the public outcry, who really believes the RCMP would have reopened this investigation?

Rehtaeh's mother, Leah Parsons wrote with regard to the photo of her alleged assault that was taken that night "nothing was done about that because they couldn't prove who had pressed the photo button on the phone."

Isn't that what policing is supposed to do, to find out who did what to whom?

An earlier RCMP statement said photos online don't constitute proof.

That's news to Calgary police detectives contacted Friday. Of course, photos can be proof. Boasting online and in texts is proof - as the Steubenville, Ohio rape case that saw two young star football players jailed recently, will attest. And on Thursday, three boys in Saratoga, Calif., were arrested and charged with sexual battery after another 15-year-old girl was gang raped as she lay unconscious on a bed after drinking too much. She killed herself after photos of her assault were posted online. Without any public pressure and no knowledge by Audrie Pott's parents as to why their daughter committed suicide, police investigated the crime and laid charges. Talk about two solitudes in policing competency.

A high-ranking Calgary Police Service officer said he and his colleagues are actually embarrassed to listen to the excuses being given by RCMP on the Parsons case, the Amanda Todd case and so many others, as it diminishes the faith the public has in all police.

Consider the following: On Thursday, the newly renamed Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre was officially opened by the prime minister. The 25,000-square-foot centre located across from Alberta Children's Hospital has been in the works for more than a year. It's where children who are abused can come to tell their story just once and then receive the help they need in a comprehensive, child-focused and friendly way. It's an inspired concept, developed by the Calgary Police Service, Child and Family Services, the Crown prosecutor's office and Alberta Health Services, along with philanthropic Calgarians and corporations. Apparently, the RCMP were approached repeatedly over the past year to join in the program to help general duty RCMP officers who investigate child sexual assault to get some help. An office on the floor was even built and set aside for them, but the RCMP is not on-board. Again, no surprise.

RCMP Chief Superintendent Kevin Harrison, who is the district commander for southern Alberta, said Friday "we certainly received an invitation from the Calgary city police quite some time ago," but, "we need to find the right resource."

In short, had Rehtaeh's rape been properly investigated and treated seriously - had she felt that others besides her family believed that a terrible crime had been committed against her and that she might see some justice done - then it's highly likely she would not have taken her own life.

It's long past time that the RCMP is held to account in Canada. The question we should all ask is, when is Stephen Harper going do something about it?

Licia Corbella is a columnist and editorial page editor.

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Tuesday, April 9

Who failed Rehtaeh Parsons?

April 9, 2013 - 6:10am BY SELENA ROSS STAFF REPORTER

Rehtaeh Parsons. (Family photo)

Rehtaeh Parsons. (Family photo)

Rehtaeh Parsons had a goofy sense of humour and loved playing with her little sisters. She wore glasses, had long, dark hair and was a straight-A student whose favourite subject was science.

On Sunday night, the 17-year-old’s family took her off life-support.

Three days earlier, on Thursday night, she hanged herself in the bathroom.

It was 17 months before that when “the person Rehtaeh once was all changed,” her mother wrote Monday on a Facebook memorial page.

“She went with a friend to another’s home. In that home, she was raped by four young boys,” wrote Leah Parsons.

“One of those boys took a photo of her being raped and decided it would be fun to distribute the photo to everyone in Rehtaeh’s school and community, where it quickly went viral.”

Rehtaeh, a 15-year-old Cole Harbour District High School student at the time, was shunned, wrote her mother.

“They all go to the same school. She couldn’t go back to the school,” Parsons said Monday in an interview.

Rehtaeh spent the past year and a half trying to handle the fallout from that night, said her mother, who runs a dog rescue.

Her daughter moved from Cole Harbour to Halifax to start anew and she checked into a hospital at one point to cope with anger, depression and thoughts of suicide.

SEE ALSO: Justice minister won't review police actions in case

WHERE TO GET HELP: A few resources

Rehtaeh ultimately made some new, supportive friends and heard from some old friends who decided to stand by her, Parsons wrote on Facebook. Rehtaeh returned to Dartmouth, where she was attending Prince Andrew High School.

However, lately the girl had struggled with mood swings, and after an outburst on Thursday, she locked herself in the bathroom, Parsons said in the interview.

“She acted on an impulse, but I truly, in my heart of heart, do not feel she meant to kill herself,” her mother wrote on Facebook.

“By the time I broke into the bathroom, it was too late.”

There are things to be learned from the girl’s death, Parsons said in the interview. That is why she is talking about what happened, and why her daughter did the same.

“Rehtaeh would want her story out there,” she said.

For one thing, social media can be toxic, said the mother. After Rehtaeh left her school, other kids were relentless.

“People texted her all the time, saying ‘Will you have sex with me?’” she remembered. “Girls texting, saying ‘You’re such a slut.’”

But then there is the question of how the adults handled the alleged sexual assault that Rehtaeh described to her mother.

The RCMP investigation took a year, said Parsons.

RCMP spokesman Cpl. Scott MacRae confirmed the police are now investigating a sudden death involving a young person.

“An investigation into an earlier sexual assault was completed, and in consultation with the Crown, there was insufficient evidence to lay charges,” MacRae said.

Out of respect for the family, and because of privacy laws, he couldn’t discuss details of the investigation Monday, and the force sent its sympathy to Rehtaeh’s loved ones, he said.

Parsons said she was unhappy with what she saw of the investigation.

“They didn’t even interview the boys until much, much later. To me, I’d think you’d get the boys right away, separate them.”

When it came to the photo or photos taken that night, “nothing was done about that because they couldn’t prove who had pressed the photo button on the phone,” she said.

She was told that the distribution of the photos is “not really a criminal issue, it’s more of a community issue,” she said.

“Even though she was 15 at the time, which is child pornography.

“The whole case was full of things like that. We didn’t have a rape kit done because we didn’t even know (anything had happened) until several days later when she had a breakdown in my kitchen.

“She was trying to keep it to herself.”

Rehtaeh’s former classmates at Prince Andrew High were sent counsellors Monday to provide support, said Doug Hadley, spokesman for the Halifax regional school board.

“We’ve been working very closely with the family for several, several months to provide supports to her,” Hadley said.

“Right now, we’re very saddened by what has taken place.”

Rehtaeh always cared for the underdog and was interested in social issues, a girl who “read everything she could get her hands on,” said her mother.

On March 3, Rehtaeh posted a photo of herself on Facebook next to a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.:

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”



Saturday, April 6

“The Exhibition” Documentary World Premiering at Hot Docs

The Exhibition Documentary World Premiering at Hot Docs

Vancouver, BC (March 19, 2013) - Jove Pictures is pleased to announce that its feature documentary “The Exhibition” will world premiere at this years Hot Docs Int’l Documentary Film Festival in Toronto.
The Exhibition follows Vancouver artist Pamela Masik’s controversial struggle to mount a large-scale exhibition of paintings based on a police poster of missing women—twenty-six of whom are found murdered on a serial killer’s (Robert Pickton) farm. The film takes an inside look at the artist’s creation of the work, the controversy that ensues, and the many issues and facts surrounding Canada’s largest serial murder case as told by the people closest to it.
Official website and trailer:

Hot Docs:

About The Exhibition:

The Exhibition is directed by Damon Vignale, produced by Miho Yamamoto and Damon Vignale, executive produced by Robert Straight. The Exhibition will air this fall on Super Channel. The Exhibition is produced with the participation of the Canada Media Fund, produced in association with Super Channel, and produced with the participation of the Canadian Film and Television Tax Credit, and the province of British Columbia, Film Incentive BC. 

Thursday, April 4

B.C. sex workers want a say in Ontario legal battle against prostitution laws


B.C. sex trade workers are asking Canada's highest court to hear their stories before deciding whether the nation's prostitution laws should be deemed unconstitutional.

Photograph by: CARL DE SOUZA, AFP/Getty Images

VANCOUVER - Sheryl Kiselbach has worked in the sex trade nearly half her life, and at 62 years old, she has expertise she said Canada's highest court needs to hear when it decides if the nation's prostitution laws are unconstitutional.

Kiselbach is one of many British Columbian sex trade workers represented by lawyers and advocacy groups applying to intervene in a June Supreme Court of Canada hearing.

They want to be allowed to tell their stories of street-based sex work, with the hope the evidence will sway the court to abolish Canada's current laws surrounding prostitution.

The prostitution-advocacy organizations announced their application to intervene in the court fight at a news conference in Vancouver on Wednesday.

"Sex work is work," Kiselbach said. "It should be perceived as such, as is any other career or work in our land."

The Supreme Court case will essentially determine whether the prostitution laws violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. While selling sex is technically legal in Canada, the Criminal Code prohibits many of the activities surrounding it. Current laws prohibit living off "the avails" of prostitution, engaging in prostitution at indoor bawdy houses, and communicating with potential clients for the purposes of securing "a date."

However, Kiselbach said such provisions should be wiped from the books because they violate sex workers' rights to freedom, security and equal treatment under the law.

"When (people) think of a sex worker, they think of somebody who's leaning against a pole, with high boots under a light. That's only 10 to 15 per cent of ... the sex-work population. Those kinds of biases need to be thrown out," she said.

The federal hearing will have a direct effect on sex workers across the country, and Kiselbach said it's important the court hears the unique experiences of those in B.C.

"I was a sex worker for 30 years," Kiselbach said. "I was a street-level sex worker, I worked indoors, I did sex-industry dancing."

While she went into the sex trade with her icy-blue eyes "wide open" because she wanted to make fast cash and travel the world, Kiselbach said that isn't the case with many who sell themselves to put food on the table.

She is now working as the violence prevention co-ordinator at PACE Society, a Vancouver-based support and prostitution-advocacy group, and Kiselbach said she sees her fair share of women who sell sex to survive.

"Some people are exploited, some people are pushed, some people don't have any options," she said.

Prohibitive prostitution laws force sex workers to into risky business, Kiselbach added.

"Many times I didn't report things," she said, of her work during the 1980s. "You'd get the idea that (police) think, 'Well, you deserve it, you put yourself in that place.'"

Relationships with police in Vancouver have improved since then but aren't perfect, Kiselbach said, adding that she ultimately hopes prostitutes will stop being treated as criminals, and stop viewing themselves as such.

It's why, Kiselbach said, she and other organizations such as the Pivot Legal Society and Sex Workers United Against Violence are pushing for "survival" and street-based sex workers to have their say in Ontario's courts as interveners.

"Every sex worker's story is a little bit different, Kiselbach said. "We can't all be put into one pot, you know?"

Representing these sex-worker advocacy groups is Lawyer Kat Kinch, who said it will be up to the Supreme Court to assess whether the B.C. groups bring new evidence to support the case, which stems from a 2007 ruling involving former dominatrix Terry-Lynne Bedford.

Kinch said she expects to hear if B.C. sex workers will be granted intervener status in May, a month before the high court hearings begin.

The Canadian Bar Association's criminal law section co-chair said B.C. sex workers know better than anyone how over-zealous prostitution laws can marginalize a vulnerable portion of society.

"British Columbia has just been through a major soul-searching effort with regard to how we've treated vulnerable women who find themselves in the sex trade," association lawyer Paul Pearson said in a telephone interview.

"The (Robert) Pickton case exemplified the most horrible of circumstances and how these women can be marginalized to the extent that they disappear and a serial killer can go undetected," Pearson said.

He said it's highly unlikely those calling for an outright ban on the sex trade will ever get their way.

"There's a reason it's called the oldest profession. It's going to go on," Pearson said, adding lawmakers can often get caught in the complex grey area of harm mitigation, and trying to create legislation that protects prostitutes from abusive pimps and shady back-alley dealings.

"It's a very difficult line to draw between the voluntary, sophisticated woman who wants to earn money by engaging in prostitution, and the woman who's being either trafficked or exploited or dominated or abused in such a fashion that she's forced into that position," he said.

"It's not an easy one to resolve."

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