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HELSTON: The power of one woman's voice

Charlotte Helston is the Vernon reporter for InfoNews.
July 10, 2015 - 8:17 AM

No one came to hear her speak, but everyone will remember what she said.

Angie Todd-Dennis of the Carrier First Nation wasn’t on the schedule of a Chamber of Commerce luncheon with Justice Minister Peter MacKay this week in Vernon. She wasn’t invited, didn’t register, and in fact slipped in on the heels of a reporter. 

For Angie, this was a rare opportunity to speak face to face with the Justice Minister about a matter she cares deeply about, and nothing, no one, would keep her out.

She sat quietly for a while, listening to MacKay’s presentation. But when he got to the part about equality and the justice system, she could sit idly no more. She didn’t have notes or a speech prepared. She spoke from the heart. Her voice, though it shook with emotion, got everyone’s attention.

She confronted MacKay about how the government is ignoring the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women — an issue that has touched her personally. “Some of those people are my relatives,” she said as she rose from her chair and walked toward MacKay. She was brief, but she was powerful.

Her approach may be regarded as improper, rude, disorderly, disrespectful, perhaps uncivil. But for someone like Angie who has lost relatives on the Highway of Tears and feels abandoned by the justice system, those same words could be turned on the government itself. 

Not everyone liked her approach, some were probably offended, but she got everyone there thinking about an ugly truth that she, for one, feels the government refuses to do anything about. She could have written letters or posted on a Facebook group, but guaranteed, it would not have delivered the same impact. Sometimes, when you feel your message is worthy enough, you have to make a scene. 

Angie put a face, and a voice, to the injustices done to her relatives in a way no one could ignore. 

And sorry, MacKay, but she kind of stole the show doing it.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.  

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
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