This semester we were asked to read Journey for Justice by crime reporter Mike McIntyre. The story of Candace Derksen's abduction on her way home from school, and the process of finding her and prosecuting her killer Mark Grant.
I read it twice, and each time I felt differently about the book. The first time I read the book I was just floored by Candace's mother, Wilma Derksen's, strength throughout the entire process. This was a story I had heard about, but I never grew up with the case. My little sister went to MBCI and had heard Wilma speak before. Wilma's words from 'Have you seen Candace," are a very powerful tool in McIntyre's book. For people who weren't as familiar with the case, it really helped paint a picture of how devastating this was for the Derksen family, and the entire community.
I had no idea what to expect during the seminar last week, where Wilma and Mike spoke to our class. I was moved by Wilma's ability to forgive. I think we are a society that often likes to blame and hate. Wilma chooses to live her life forgiving, and loving those around her. We need more people like Wilma in this world.
Certain parts of this book worked for me, and others didn't. I enjoyed the beginning where McIntyre retells the story of how Candace went missing. Some argue that he shouldn't have put so much of that in this book with Wilma's book, but some people won't take the time to read both books (though they should), so it was important. In part two I felt that the doctors reports on Mark Grant slowed it down for me. I wish that he didn't include as many of the reports, because it started to feel redundant. All of the doctors concluded many of the same things.
I think what did work was McIntyre's writing on the trial itself. McIntyre was in the courtroom for the hearings, and it was interesting to read what actually happened from someone what was there.
I think journalists can learn a lot from this book. It really just shows that you can take a story that means something to you, and work with it for a long time. Journalists have to write stories in such short time periods, so I think McIntyre really shows that they can write long pieces too. I think it also shows that stories can mean a lot to people. McIntyre was moved by the Derksen case, and he wanted to bring his own justice to the story by telling it to the world.
McIntyre also explained how important it is to go the extra mile with victims. You have to be respectful of their situation, but you also have to try to get the story. It's your job to report tragic cases, but it can be easier for you and the victims if you show some compassion. He said often people are upset and instantly shut you down, but once you show them that you genuinely care and want to tell their story in a respectful way, it can go a long way.
I think this book also shows how powerful the media is to have on your side. For example on page. 63 when Wilma's former journalism and public relations instructors come over for support and urge the family to ask the public to help them, "The public is out there. You need to solicit their help."
I think that this is even more true today with social media, and the ability to get the word out to a huge following so quickly.
I think Mike McIntyre's Journey for Justice, really felt like a lot of his columns in the Winnipeg Free Press, except a bit longer. In a way it felt like many stories from the newspaper, organized in a way that tells a full story. I never actually felt like I was reading a book. I think because there are so many other voices in the writing, it made it feel like a multi piece work, but I think it worked in this case. I really enjoyed that he included actual clippings from the Winnipeg Free Press when Candace went missing. It was interesting to read what people were writing about and saying when this actually happened. It was interesting to hear McIntyre explain his process of writing books. How he becomes so close to a lot of the families he writes about, and would often drive out to other cities just to sit down with the father of a missing child.
I was surprised how much I enjoyed the presentations. I had no idea what to expect at the seminar, but it was my favourite this year. I wish we could have seen Wilma and Mike on different days, because I would have really liked to hear more from Wilma. It was hard to fit in everything in such a short amount of time. I am now starting to read Wilma's book, so it will be interesting to have both perspectives.