Saturday, April 13, 2013

They're burying Rehtaeh today.

This is Rehtaeh.

They're buring Rehtaeh today.
Rehtaeh took her own life last weekend.
Rehtaeh was 17 years old.

Perhaps you've heard her story.

To use legal-talk, Rehtaeh was "allegedly" gang-raped by four boys in 2011 at a house party in Eastern Passage, when she was 15.  One of the perpetrators took photos of the act, and shared it, sparking  bullying and harassment

The "alleged" rape was reported to police. Police and school officials at Cole Harbour High knew of the allegations and of the photos being circulated.  It was determined that there was not enough evidence to lay charges of rape or child pornography.  

Rehtaeh changed schools to escape her tormentors. The harassment and taunting followed her, as boys contacted her to ask if she'd "do" them too !

Her story has caused a storm of outrage.

It has spread world-wide, causing the hacker-group "Anonymous" to become involved, threatening to release the names of the four boys.

It has become the top news story in Canada.

Talk of revenge, caused her parents to exhort people not to bully, or threaten, the alleged perpetrators, saying that was not be what Rehtaeh would want.

Rehtaeh's mom holds photos of her daughter.

The Premier of Nova Scotia has now appointed four different departments to look into what Rehtaeh endured, and we have learned today that the police are re-opening the case as "new information has been brought forward".

Isn't it a pity that Rehtaeh had to kill herself in order to make the justice system listen to her story ?

Her father released at statement after her death lamenting that Rehtaeh: "died of disappointment... disappointed in people she thought she could trust, her school, and the police ... She was my daughter, but she was your daughter too."

My heart goes out to her family and friends during this sad time.

My hope is that things change and they are not disappointed too.


For more information:

The Facebook page set up by Rehtaeh's family in her memory and to raise awareness about the effects of bullying.

Her father has since informed us that four of Rehtaeh's organs have "saved the life of a young woman with her heart.  She also gave someone a new liver, a kidney, a new breath and a new chance to love.  She saved the lives of four people with her final gift of life.  She was that wonderful." He then added, "Someone out there is going to look at the world with my daughter's eyes.  The most beautiful eyes I have ever seen".

Her father, Glen Canning, posted this open letter on his blog after her death:

My daughter was three years old when we went to watch Babe: Pig in the City. There’s a part in the movie when Babe knocks over a goldfish bowl and the fish falls onto the floor and starts flopping around. When this happened Rae suddenly stood up on her chair in the movie theatre and started screaming for someone to help the fish. She cried for it as I tried to reassure her Babe would help (thank God he did) and that the fish would be alright.
That was the nature of my daughter Rehtaeh. She was like that her whole life. I couldn’t go for a walk in Halifax with her without her asking me for change to give to someone in need. She was always looking out for people or animals that needed help. She called Animal Control Services on our neighbors because they left their dog outside too long. Her room and her life was always full of little creatures.
Sometimes her heart was too big, sometimes it scared me.
They say parents need to teach their children. Instead, it was Rehtaeh who was my teacher. My precious gift. She was the absolute best part of my life.
There’s a wooden box in my house that holds all the memories I have of my beautiful little girl. The outfit she wore home from the hospital, a hand print in clay, art, school cards and drawings, mementoes of her life. Even a newspaper dated December 9th, 1995, the day she came into this world.
I tried to keep it all for her, to have someday when she grew up and had her own family. That day will never come.
Rehtaeh died April 7th at 11:15 PM. She was 17 years old.
She died struggling to live, much as she spent the last 18 months. She hung on right to the very end, when the nurses were telling us if she couldn’t be declared brain dead soon they couldn’t use her as an organ donor. We couldn’t wait any longer. She couldn’t live any longer. And right at the last moment there was a change in her blood pressure as the last part of her brain gave away. She knew she had to leave. It was time to let go and find peace.
It was so like her to hang on right up until the very last second. To give us all a chance to hold her hand, wipe her tears away, and kiss her beautiful face for the last time.
I tried my best to save my daughter’s life. I believe that in my heart.
I asked her repeatedly what I could do, was I doing enough, what did she want from me? She said she just wanted me to be her dad. To make her laugh. To do everything possible to keep a part of her life normal. She said it helped more than I could ever know.
I prayed for the best while I prepared her for the worst. We went to counseling together. Sometimes I was the drive, sometimes the father, sometimes the counselor.
The worst nightmare of my life has just begun. I loved my beautiful baby with all my heart. She meant everything to me. I felt her heart beating in my soul from the moment she was born until the moment she died. We were a team. We were best pals. We often sat on my couch and laughed until we could hardly speak. When we weren’t together she would call me or text me every single day, just to say hi, to say she loved me. The life I had with my daughter was a rare thing. It was wonderful, it consumed me. I was defined by it. It made my life rich and beautiful.
She was amazing.
Yesterday I looked at another wooden box. It will hold her ashes. I hate it.
I had to write something about this. I don’t want her life to defined by a Google search about suicide or death or rape. I want it to be about the giving heart she had. Her smile. Her love of life and the beautiful way in which she lived it.
I found out this afternoon my daughter saved the life of a young woman with her heart. How fitting.
She also gave someone a new liver, a kidney, a new breath, and a new chance to love. She saved the lives of four people with her final gift of life. She was that wonderful.
Someone out there is going to look at the world with my daughter’s eyes. The most beautiful eyes I have ever seen.
To the Justice Minister of Nova Scotia
Rehtaeh Parsons thought the worst outcome for her case would be no charges against the men who raped her but we all know better. The worst thing that could happen would be charges. That they would be found guilty, and that Rehtaeh would sit on a court bench and listen in utter disbelief as they were given parole, or a suspended sentence, or community service. All for completely destroying her life while they laughed.
Why is it they didn’t just think they would get away with it; they knew they would get away with it. They took photos of it. They posted it on their Facebook walls. They emailed it to God knows who. They shared it with the world as if it was a funny animation.
How is it possible for someone to leave a digital trail like that yet the RCMP don’t have evidence of a crime? What were they looking for if photos and bragging weren’t enough?
Why was this treated like a minor incident of bullying rather than a rape? Isn’t the production and distribution of child porn a crime in this country? Numerous people were emailed that photo. The police have that information (or at least they told us they did). When someone claims they were raped is it normal to wait months before talking to the accused?
You have the opportunity here to do something good and lets face it; the court system in Nova Scotia was just going to rape her all over again with indifference to her suffering and the damage this did to her.
My daughter wasn’t bullied to death, she was disappointed to death. Disappointed in people she thought she could trust, her school, and the police.
She was my daughter, but she was your daughter too.
For the love of God do something.
***I’ve been contacted from media outlets from all over the world and as a past member of the media I understand why you all want to speak with me. You have all been very courteous, professional, and respectful. Please know, however, this is the only statement I am able to make. I’m too devastated.***
I feel like I’m dead inside.

Note: Apparently Rehtaeh was cremated.  I'll leave my subject line as it is as it expresses the finality that I wanted to convey.


  1. This is such a heartbreaking story. Too many "if only"s. I though about writing something about Rehtaeh, but couldn't find the words. Thank you for finding them.

  2. Bonnie, this was a hard post to write. I kept wanting to go off on "blaming" tangents.

    Life can be so unfair.

    It's sad.

  3. This is such a tragedy, Sybil. So very sad. Saw this on the national news but didn't realize about Eastern Passage. Blessings to all... It's hard to make sense of so many tragedies lately.

  4. Thanks Kathy.

    The sad situation grows as posters have gone up around town (even on Rehteah's street) alleging that the truth has yet to be heard and urging support for the boys ... the four boys who had sex with an inebriated 15 yr old girl ...

  5. I see ugliness disregards international borders.

  6. OMG Sybil even in Canada! No words to express my outrage and compassion for Rehtaeh and her parents.
    Thank you for sharing the story.

    with tears

    1. Rosie, Rehtaeh's mom is meeting with our Prime Minister today. Does that give you an idea of the kind of impact this has had. The P.M. is looking at our existing legislation regarding the taking/sharing of digital images of sex acts involving minors and also non-consensual sex.

  7. HI Sybil,
    FYI - the site you mention above is NOT the official site created by her mother, this is the site
    Thanks for coming to visit today! I am thrilled you will be adopting one of the kittens!

    1. Thanks Sonya for letting me know. I have corrected the link.

      Happy to be adopting one of your kittens.


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