As a parent, I can't begin to fathom the heartbreak and anguish Glen Cannon must be going through right now. His daughter was 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons, the girl who hanged herself last week, 18 months after an alleged rape by teens who were never charged. Teens who allegedly took photos of the attack and posted them online, Steubenville-style. It's been said that Rehtaeh, branded a "slut" by her peers, was "bullied to death." But Glenn Cannon knows otherwise.
"My daughter wasn’t bullied to death, she was disappointed to death," he wrote on his blog this week. "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."
Cannon knew his daughter better than anyone else. This was the young woman who, as a little girl, was so worried about the well-being of a goldfish knocked out of its bowl in the movie Babe that she stood up in the theatre and started screaming for help. This was the child who, Cannon says, he couldn't take for a walk in Halifax "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.
It's not fair. Rehtaeh was a girl who lived to help others and died from the devastation of NOT being helped by the people she counted on. Why did police reportedly sit on evidence for months before speaking to Rehtaeh? Why was the alleged rape treated, in Cannon's words, as a "minor" incident? Why did her friends turn on her when she needed them the most? Why was Glenn Cannon robbed of his beautiful daughter?
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.
It makes me wonder, are we supposed to teach our children that people are inherently good and justice always prevails, or should we be teaching them the opposite: To distrust people until they prove themselves trustworthy, that telling the truth sometimes doesn't matter?
Either way, I commend Glenn Cannon for writing about his daughter through his tears, because now even those of us who didn't know her know that the world lost a truly beautiful individual to this tragedy.
May she rest in peace.
How can we prevent what happened to Rehtaeh Parsons from happening again?
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