So it begins...

This all began long ago, in shards, bits and pieces, leading to this project.

I was raised to be aware of the world around me, and skeptical of the status quo. This skepticism was honed through years of research and study, leading to a Master's degree from McMaster in Cultural Studies and Critical Theory. What I learned during my years in university was able to hone my passion for feminist causes through studying and volunteering with marginalized communities. Over time it became increasingly apparent that certain key activities, people, and situations were missing from ongoing local, provincial and national dialogues. 

Then one day I woke up with the strong pull to attain a Private Investigator's license. I assured myself I had no aspirations of becoming a rogue detective, but instead set out to volunteer my time (and newly acquired license) to help individuals who might need a person with these skills but not have the funds to acquire it privately. But there was no such organization to join. 

I thought of "The Innocence Project": an incredible organization for individuals in need of dedicated support and skill without a cost. Where was this project for missing people? I read up more on missing and murdered women in Canada and saw that repeatedly the families and loved ones were pushed out of the loop--forced to wait for police to solve the case or face the alternative which was thousands of dollars on private investigative teams, publicity (billboards, newspaper ads, etc), and considerable amounts of energy.

Moreover, the families and loved ones not only were lacking access to investigative services but also to the ability to tell the community about their missing. It's not a secret that there are key demographics that are ignored when they go missing, or when they are spoken of it is only irrelevant and judgmental details of their lives. Take a look at Susan Gourley's Hamilton Police page. The photo of her is a mugshot, the details of her life were that she was 'known to police' and that she was a sex worker. Taking a look at the list of media coverage on Susan, it's easy to see that she was never offered a well-rounded representation. Compare that to, for example, the disappearance of Tim Bosma in 2013 which sparked a media firestorm. Everyone deserves that type of dignity, visibility, and community--this Project aims to even the scales, even if only by a fraction.

These were the realizations that started this project, and it got me asking: What about the ability for these families to have access to all the tools they need for a search (including the key choice of leading or allowing the community to lead the efforts to find them)? What about a hub to allow the community to check in on these individuals, the progress of the searches, and a place for engagement in their lives? What about a place to link investigative firms, journalists, university/college departments and local businesses that wish to lend their support to families and individuals who need them most? 

This project didn't exist, but now it does. It's time to find our missing.

Alissa WattComment