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Two Survivors and All They’ve Shared

ARTIFACT: A powerful CBC radio documentary grows from a long arc of amazing generosity.

David Beers 21 Jan 2022TheTyee.ca

David Beers is founding editor of The Tyee.

A new must-listen radio documentary on the CBC called Acts of Resistance is the product of remarkable patience and a willingness to share difficult personal truths over the course of much time.

Eight years ago Meghan Mast asked Gina Laing and Dennis Bob, two survivors of abuse at the Alberni Indian Residential School, if they might allow her to spend some time with them in order to learn how they cope. The two had told their stories to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, an exhausting effort that brought each of them some relief but no rush of “healing” that is sometimes claimed for the process. They were getting by as best they could with the love and support of family and friends, the comforts of routine and daily “small acts of rebellion.”

Laing and Bob granted Mast many hours of conversation, and Laing even took Mast to her family home in Hilthatis, a small Uchucklesaht tribe reserve village near Port Alberni. Mast wrote articles about their lives, published in The Tyee in 2015.

Last year, Mast reconnected with Laing and Bob to update their stories — tales of ongoing survival after facing more challenges in the intervening years. You can find those Tyee pieces here and here.

Now there is a beautiful CBC multimedia documentary about the return of Gina Laing and Dennis Bob to ground zero for their pain. They visit all that remains of the compound that was erected to capture and crush their spirits.

On the CBC site, you can find a photo essay, “Remnants of Lost Childhood,” written by Meghan Mast and shot by Matthew Sawatzky here.

And you can listen to the audio piece, Acts of Resistance, by Mast and Allison Cook, here.

The project bears testament to the ongoing courage and generosity of these two remarkable survivors. And to the good will they have long extended a fine journalist.  [Tyee]

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