VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Filmgoers Finding Dawn
In 2000 Dawn Crey had her name added to a list of 60 others who had disappeared from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
Four years later she became the 23rd woman whose remains were identified on accused killer Robert Willie Pickton’s Port Coquitlam pig farm.
For her family there was a sense of relief at knowing what kind of fate befell their kin.
For Salt Spring Island-based filmmaker Christine Welsh, the discovery unearthed more questions and set her on a cross-country path to ask why so many Aboriginal women remain missing.
“When I heard that her DNA had been found on the farm, something clicked,” the Métis filmmaker said. “I contacted the family to do a story on her but quickly realized this was part of something much bigger.”
In the past 30 years more than 500 Aboriginal women across Canada have gone missing or been murdered, a number that haunts Welsh.
“Historically Aboriginal women have been invisible and undervalued in society,” Welsh said. “For some reason our deaths and disappearances go unnoticed.
“By making this film it is one way to bring the issue to the forefront and give it the exposure it deserves.”
Finding Dawn focuses on the lives of Crey, Ramona Wilson, who went missing along the “Highway of Tears” in northern B.C., and Daleen Kay Bosse, a university student and mother who disappeared from Saskatoon.
The documentary deals with the questions of why so many missing Aboriginal women’s cases remain unsolved and looks for hope buried in the tragic tales.
“I think as a filmmaker it is my responsibility not to leave the audience with a feeling of hopelessness and despair,” Welsh said. “There are positives out there and you can see it in the strengths of Aboriginal women and by speaking with their families.
“We all have a job to do to ensure this does not continue to happen.”
Welsh, who also teaches courses on indigenous women’s issues at the University of Victoria, has begun receiving acclaim for Finding Dawn, her fifth documentary focusing on Aboriginal issues, and was recently given the Amnesty International Film Festival Gold Audience Award.
Her other films include a look at residential school effects in Kuper Island: Return to the Healing Circle and a journey back in history in The Story of the Coast Salish Knitters.
Welsh will be on hand at the free screening of Finding Dawn at the Quw’utsun’ Cultural and Conference Centre to discuss some of the issues and stories surrounding the making of the film.
Those wishing to attend are asked to get tickets from Malaspina University College’s student services area in the Cowichan Campus in advance due to limited seating.
Donations will also be accepted to the Cowichan Campus Faculty Bursary.
For more information about this film and Welsh’s others visit the National Film Board website at www.nfb.ca.
© Copyright 2007 Duncan News Leader and Pictorial
Updated: August 21, 2016