Rehtaeh Parsons was a gifted teenager with boundless curiosity and a love for family, science, and the natural world. But her life was derailed when she went to a friend’s house for a sleepover and the two of them dropped by at a neighbour’s house, where a group of boys were having a party.
The next day, one of the boys circulated a photo on social media: it showed Rehtaeh half naked, with a boy up against her. She had no recollection of what had happened. For 17 months, Rehtaeh was shamed from one school to the next. Bullied by her peers, she was scorned by their parents and her community. No charges were laid by the RCMP.
In comfortable, suburban Nova Scotia, Rehtaeh spiralled into depression. Failed by her school, the police, and the mental health system, Rehtaeh attempted suicide on April 4, 2013. She died three days later.
But her story didn’t die with her. Rehtaeh’s death shone a searing light on attitudes toward issues of consent and sexual assault. It also led to legislation on cyberbullying, a review of mental health services for teens, and an overhaul of how Canadian schools deal with cyber exploitation.
My Daughter Rehtaeh Parsons offers an unsparing look at Rehtaeh’s story, the social forces that enable and perpetuate violence and misogyny among teenagers, and parental love in the midst of horrendous loss. (From Goose Lane Editions)
Glen Canning is the father of Rehtaeh Parsons and an advocate for victims of sexual violence. My Daughter Rehtaeh Parsons is his first book.
Susan McClelland is an journalist and author. Her writing has appeared in the Walrus, the Guardian and the Sunday Times Magazine.
The Quill and Quire 2021 catalogue is now available and has my book featured under non-fiction. You can see it here.
(25 November 2020) It’s been quite a journey but the final edits are coming almost complete. It’s been an amazing experience to work with Susan Mcclelland the last couple years as we worked on putting it all together. It still needs to be lawyered (due to the nature of the story) and some minor edits remain.
We’re hoping to have it published around May 2021. Stay tuned for more updates.
(18 May 2020) It’s going to be a little longer until we publish. COVID-19 put the world on pause. Release date TBA.
For much of the last year and a half I’ve been working with award-winning writer Susan McClelland on a book about Rehtaeh’s life, her death, and the aftermath of losing her.
Writing this book about Rehtaeh’s life and tragic death is not only a way to honour her legacy, but a way to let the many young people in Canada going through similar situations know that they’re not alone.
It hasn’t been easy, going over all the details and the pain that seemed to come with every passing day. It’s not a goodbye, as in the final chapter I’ll face in my life with and without Rae, but I am trying to deal with the “now what” part. This has been the perfect way to start that journey.
The book is scheduled to publish in the spring of 2021 but who knows given the state of the world at the moment. It will chronicle how I confronted both family tragedy and a pernicious, persistent culture of misogyny that created the conditions for that tragedy.
Goose Lane to publish book about Rehtaeh Parsons and the aftermath of her tragic death
Father Glen Canning to pen story of sorrow and healing with writer Susan McClelland
Rehtaeh Parsons, whose tragic story made headlines around the world following the end of her life in April, 2013, will be the subject of a new book by her father, Glen Canning, with award-winning writer Susan McClelland.
Rehtaeh, an introverted, gifted teenager who loved animals and studied quantum physics and parallel universes, had been sexually assaulted by four boys before she eventually took her own life. A photo taken during the assault quickly spread across social media networks. Police, initially optimistic, eventually dropped the case. Shaming from her peers and schoolmates persisted, sending Rehtaeh into depression and drug abuse before her death.
Rehtaeh’s story spawned protests in cities across Canada, and inspired the formation of anti-violence groups around the world. A precursor to the #metoo movement, it also sparked a national judicial review, ordered by the highest levels of government, a review of mental health services for assaulted teens, and an overhaul of how schools deal with cyber exploitation. The public outcry around her case resulted in it being reopened, with new charges laid, eventually resulting in convictions.
“Writing this book about Rehtaeh’s life and tragic death is not only a way to honour her legacy, but a way to let the many young people in Canada going through similar situations know that they’re not alone,” said Glen Canning,
The book is scheduled to publish in the spring of 2020. It will chronicle how Glen Canning confronted both family tragedy and a pernicious, persistent culture of misogyny that created the conditions for that tragedy. It is the story of a father, a daughter, a community, and what it takes to heal.
The deal was arranged by Rob Firing at the Transatlantic Agency.