Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Finding Dawn...Finding Hope

I've just left the Farquhar Auditorium at the University of Victoria, after having viewed the largest screening to date of Christine Welsh's film, Finding Dawn. I can't remember how many times I cried. We were told that it would be a 'heavy' film, but Christine truly manages to tell a moving, indignant, powerful, and ultimately, hopeful story about the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada.

It was hard to comment on when the film was over. My friends and I were almost rendered speechless. And at the same time, we cannot be. As indigenous communities, we've been silent about these matters for too long. HUNDREDS of missing and murdered indigenous women. Our sisters. Our mothers. Our aunties. Our daughters. Our cousins. Collectively, we must say, "Enough! No more!" Collectively, we must begin to act, to stop the violence, to restore balance, dignity, and honour to our families and communities.

I applaud Christine Welsh for her monumental achievement in creating this film, in finding the stories and allowing them to be told. So many times, we were brought to tears, as we met these women, their families, became aware of who they were. Christine not only humanizes these victims, she helps us remember our indigenous dignity. The stories are painful and heart-wrenching. I can hardly describe my own visceral, physical reaction.

But she does more than shed light on these issues, long kept silent. On her journey, she also finds hope. This hope reminds us of who we are, and our place in this world. This hope compels us not only to remember these women, but to act, to stop the violence, to uphold our sacred responsibilities. We haven't a moment to lose. We need to take inspiration from work like Christine's film and the stories of the women she shares, and restore, revitalize and rebuild our homes.

I'm looking forward to working with Chiinuuks, Muhwa, Ha'wiih'thlup, Hiish-miik, Seitcha, Wichaninnish, and all my brothers and sisters to Stop the Violence in Nuu-chah-nulth territory. The movement will not stop. It will continue this Spring, this time bringing the dual-message of awareness and hope, to the urban centres where more than 65% of our people live. If you get a chance, see the film, and get involved, and start a movement in your community.

Dignity and Hope.