UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

Finding Dawn

Director puts a human face on the 500 missing Aboriginal women in Canada

By Miriam Spies

Finding Dawn
Directed by Christine Welsh

Dawn Cray, Ramona Wilson and Daleen Kay Bosse are among the estimated 500 Aboriginal women who have gone missing or been murdered over the past 30 years. And with hundreds of cases still waiting to be solved, the need for greater attention inspired Métis filmmaker Christine Welsh to tell the stories of her forgotten sisters.

In Finding Dawn, Welsh puts a human face on a national tragedy. Her documentary offers insight into the daily realities of many Aboriginal women in Western Canada, from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to the Highway of Tears in northern British Columbia to the streets of Saskatoon. Winner of the Audience Gold Award at the 2006 Amnesty International Film Festival in Vancouver, the documentary stays away from gruesome details but burdens viewers with the sorrow of families and friends.

The stories are emotionally draining, and moments of levity are few and far between. Welsh doesn’t rush her interview subjects — long silences during the interviews with Dawn’s siblings, Lorraine and Ernie, evoke tears and memories of final visits with their sister. Sitting on the same park bench where she and Dawn last met, Lorraine says, “I still remember her grey eyes, long hair.” The setting here is powerful yet slightly contrived; during one of Lorraine’s long pauses, the camera zooms in on a crow, a symbol of death.

Finding Dawn uncovers much more than haunting stories and family histories; it examines the lasting impact of colonization, societal attitudes and negative media images.

Ultimately, though, Welsh fails to ask the hard questions of police authorities: Why are there delays in investigations? And why do the disappearances of and violence against Aboriginal women continue?


Author's photo
Miriam Spies will be blogging daily about Rendez-vous 2011 from now until Aug. 15.
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!

Environment

Song leader, police and gate blockers in front of the Kinder Morgan gates. Photo by Kimiko Karpoff

A Kinder Morgan protest in photos and song

by Kimiko Karpoff

A faith leader reflects on protesting the pipeline with the Water Protectors from the Tsleil-Waututh nation.

Promotional Image

Editorials

The United Church Observer's editor and publisher, Jocelyn Bell. Photo: Lindsay Palmer

Observations: #MeToo

by Jocelyn Bell

Our hope is that by giving voice to these #MeToo stories, a new conversation about sexual misconduct can begin.

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Playing by Heart

by Observer Staff

United Church music director Kara Shaw was born prematurely, became almost totally blind and was later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Today, the 28-year-old showcases her unique musical ability, performing piano on local and national stages.

Promotional Image

Society

June 2018

Why some women of colour are hesitant to say #MeToo

by Jacky Habib

Three women share their stories in the hope of creating safe spaces they never had.

Environment

May 2018

A Kinder Morgan protest in photos and song

by Kimiko Karpoff

On April 28, 2018, faith leaders from many traditions, including the United Church, stood in solidarity with Water Protectors from the Tsleil-Waututh nation to protest the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion in Burnaby, B.C.. Kimiko Karpoff captured the day in pictures.

Faith

June 2018

After 93 years, this will be the United Church's last General Council meeting

by Mike Milne

When the United Church meets in July, top priorities will be a streamlined governance structure and Indigenous ministries.

Justice

June 2018

#MeToo in the United Church

by Trisha Elliott

9 women share their stories of harassment and sexual assault in the United Church.

Columns

May 2018

On grief and the healing power of gardening

by Paul Fraumeni

A writer reflects on how growing tomatoes is helping him find peace while dealing with the loss of loved ones, including his son.

Editorials

June 2018

Observations: #MeToo

by Jocelyn Bell

Our hope is that by giving voice to these #MeToo stories, a new conversation about sexual misconduct can begin.

Promotional Image