Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Start...

I started this blog as a year-long school project.

My original goal was to write a book about the growing number of missing Aboriginal women in Manitoba. However, through the process of preparing for my project (meeting family members of missing women; attending vigils, concerts, events and rallies; researching old news archives, etc.) I've discovered a number of things that have become instrumental in this blog.

The book I wanted to write: My instructors loved the idea for my book. However, they but thought it would be better suited for a blog. "The stories aren't finished," one of them told me. True. Plus, a blog allows me to circulate this information to a wider audience for free!

Missing Aboriginal women became Missing and Murdered Women: I went back and forth on the decision whether to write about all women, or only Aboriginal women.

Since I am part Aboriginal, I knew that I would have a different perspective than a non-Aboriginal person would have. I also understood that this particular problem (in Canada) affects more Aboriginal women than non-Aboriginal women. However, when it came down to deciding who to write about, I realized that I couldn't exclude someone just because they didn't fit into a racial or cultural parameter that I had set up.

When a woman goes missing, no matter what colour her skin is, her family still aches. That's what is important.

In wanting to humanize these women, I realized that I too had to let go of my preconceived ideas: When I pitched the idea for this project my biggest argument was that I hated the way these women were portrayed in the media. I said that I could do a better job of telling their stories, because I would put my heart into it and give these women (Many who have been deemed unworthy of our attention based on the labels they've been given) a human face.

I honestly thought that I was open minded, and didn't cast judgement on these women (or their families) based on certain aspects of their lives.

However, I startled myself when I realized how shocked I was to meet Matt Bushby (Claudette Osborne-Tyo's fiance), and discover that he was so smart and nice. -- I had just assumed, based on how Claudette was labelled a crack-addicted sex-trade worker in the media, that he would be different than he was. (As brutal as it sounds, I went into this wondering what kind of guy dates and has children with a sex-trade worker. After learning about Matt and Claudette, I realize now that it is someone who is far less judgemental and ignorant me. Thank you Matt, for unknowingly showing me what I should have already known.)

What is this blog going to do?: Honestly, I don't have great hopes that my blog is going to solve these cold cases, or reunite these women with their families. No, I am not that naive.

I simply created this blog to tell stories and raise awareness about these women and their families.

Style: This blog will not be written in formal journalistic style. Yes, I'm a journalism student, but I already broke the cardinal rule of journalism (staying unbiased) by becoming too emotionally involved.

This blog will contain my own thoughts and experiences as well.

Please read, pass on the link, and consider opening your mind and your eyes about these all too common stories.

Thank you.

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