Greetings of the Season everyone,
Dec 14, 2021
This year I am doing double duty – combining my annual letter with a Christmas blog. The year has gone by very quickly in spite of being grounded with Covid for the most part. The reason may be inevitable aging, but most probably it is because I have been totally occupied with writing a book.
For those who follow my blog @ MissingCara.ca, December 2020 was a summary of my volunteer ventures in recognition of my Star of Alberta Volunteer Award, although the ceremony was virtual. My vision for 2021 was to be part of the generation that ends human trafficking and to that end, I pledged to work on a book on the subject.
This time last year we were engaging in brief outdoor visits and learning to video call. I am very grateful for my virtual support groups – my ladies writing group, my Book Club, my Memorial Park committee, occasional check-ins with Victims of Homicide, and more recently my “Writing on Purpose” group. As well, I was immersed in research and happy to access free webinars.
A surprise honor in March was the Joy Award from Soroptimist International of Edmonton in recognition of my efforts to end Human Trafficking. I was humbled to join the ranks of inspirational women recipients such as parliamentarian Joy Smith and my long-time mentor Kate Quinn. A financial contribution was made to the charity of my choice and, of course, CEASE: Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation was the beneficiary.
By wonderful serendipity, I came across an online course March through June on “How to Write a Book in Four Months” offered by Mike Cameron. Of course, even I knew that wasn’t really possible but signed up for the challenge and structure, both of which were well worth the effort. Bonus was meeting a great group of motivated amateur writers, all with intriguing stories, and some of us chose to continue together again in the fall.
My friend and co-author, Andrea Heinz, is brilliant, talented, and incredibly ambitious. As well as working on our book, she is raising three beautiful children, completing a university program, maintaining a Twitter account, and producing a documentary series on commercial sexual exploitation. We met in 2013 at STOP and have been united in our cause since.
May 6-7, 2021, was the amazing online Canadian Sexual Exploitation Summit: Disrupt Demand sponsored by Defend Dignity. Thoughts from several excellent speakers will be shared in our book. The CEASE team was able to present our STOP: Sex Trade Offender Program, aka “john school.” Please see my “Four Months in Review” for March – April – May – June.
Work on the Memorial Park continued slowly. The “park” is a series of un-named green spaces in Alberta Ave area, where many women have disappeared over the last few decades. The Community League asked to name these parks in honor of the MMIWG. What started out as a “naming” project has grown to the idea of creating an educational and ceremonial space. We have been blessed with two grants so have some financial resources to fund our ideas. After consultation with Elders, the name Kisewatisiswin (compassion of Mother Earth) was chosen.
Outings during the year have been limited mostly to medical appointments and grocery shopping. We were happy to receive our Covid shots as soon as we were eligible and finally had a few outdoor gatherings with family and friends over the summer. Overall, we have been living with extreme caution.
As the months passed from spring to summer, word count continued to grow for our book. Through Andrea’s extensive network, she was able to receive a number of contributions from guest authors. See also my “CEASE Annual Memorial” in August and “Body Found; Cause Continues” plus “The Drone and the ReDress Photo” in September. As always, good times are celebrated, loss is acknowledged, and injustice must be addressed.
Autumn has been a blur. I would like to recognize one other art installation in honor of MMIP. This was displayed at Parkdale Community in October. The windy day picture was taken by Paula Kirman for Boyle-McCauley News, the night picture by April Eve Wiberg when the red panels reflected projected images. Cara is top row, second from right.
An interesting interpretation of Covid regulations was that although in-house visiting was restricted to ten people from two households, more could gather in public spaces. That allowed us a few more outings, presumably because restaurants must check vaccination status.
Andrea and I were able to contract with an editor and submitted out first draft, although not quite complete, in September. The last few months were spent tying up loose ends and responding to editorial suggestions. Cut-off for new material is the end of the year, and our second edit will hopefully be ready for submission in January 2022! Special thanks to my fellow writers from Mike’s group for ongoing feedback and encouragement.
In closing, I wish all friends and readers very best wishes for the holiday season and many blessings in 2022. Our extended families are doing well for the most part; I have not included personal news as this is intended for a wider audience. Please keep following. Andrea and I are hoping for publication by fall 2022 so will be coordinating launch events closer to that time, and may even be involved in random activism as conditions allow.
I leave you with my thought for the year: Maybe transformation is a journey, not a destination. May we all be inspired along our journey of hope and healing, to find peace within ourselves and joy to share with the world. Happy 2022!