Monday, October 4, 2010

Sometimes, even when you think you're prepared, you're just not.

So I went to a vigil at the Legislature tonight, in honour of Manitoba's missing and murdered women.

Equipped with an ENG camera, a tripod, audio equipment, an SLR camera, a notepad and my purse, I was ready to cover this vigil for my IPP Blog, Missing Manitoba Women. Since I had been to a number of these vigils before, I assumed that today's homage would be like any other.

I was wrong.

You see, I'd never attended one of these vigils as a journalist before. Nope. I've always gone as an "advocate" or a "supporter" of the cause.

Even with all of my high tech camera equipment, there were a number of things that I failed to capture:

I failed at my attempt to capture the essence of this event-- where mothers of lost daughters sobbed and comforted one another, and the smell of sweet grass and tobacco wafted through the air.

I failed to capture the tears from friends and family who can't seem to move on from the day their sister/daughter/mother/friend, vanished, and the bonds that have formed out of this tremendous pool of loss.

I failed to capture the utterly unfair reality of partly-orphaned children obliviously running around at an event that has become a normal part of their young life.

At this vigil, with my journalist hat on, I failed at really capturing the emotion of the event. It wasn't until I was faced with the decision to film people in their most vulnerable moments, or turn the camera away, that I realized how scary and intrusive this job can be.

I turned the camera away.

Though, I understand that public vigils are an invitation to the media to film and help these families raise awareness for a cause, it is still hard to cover these kinds of events without feeling like you are exploiting people. Especially when you see people you hardly know, or don't know at all, at their weakest.

Tonight was a real eye opener for me.


  1. You are one of the most intellegent, articulate and approachable women I know. I am sure you did a fantastic job.

    You speak for those who cannot.


  2. It's amazing how much one's role dictates one's involvement and perspective in a situation. It's the multi-dimentional layering of roles and perspectives, and a journalist has to balance them all. Good job Shelley!

  3. I am sure that it is never easy attending one of those rallies. Just because you have not personally been affected does not mean it is easy to ignore the emotions surrounding you.

    You do a great job of telling the story.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. Shelley, there are times to mourn and fight, and there are times to be strong and do the job you set out to do. Without you, the next generation won't know what took place there. You have a story to tell...

    You're a rock Shells!

  5. Thank you Shelley.....

    Please tell the stories, don't feel like you are intruding.

    On behalf of the family of Hillary Wilson, thank you !!! We need as many people as possible to know what is happening out there. Our loved ones are missing or have been murdered and we need to end this. It causes so much grief and sadness to the families.

    You did an awesome job on this article...keep it up !!!!

    Once again, thank you.

  6. What everybody else just said......don't give up, you were born to be a journalist.