“Boy Next Door” (December) captures the terror of the Scarborough Rapist’s reign and speaks volumes about sexual assault, and consent in general. Stacey May Fowles’ juxtaposition of narratives—the community’s and her own—is candid and brave.
From an early age, girls learn that rape by a nameless stranger is possible. While that does happen, as in the case of Paul Bernardo, it is not the only narrative or even the most common one. Women are more often sexually assaulted by men they know: a partner, a friend, someone they trust. It may not always be at gun- or knifepoint, but it’s still violent.
Fowles’ piece is sensationalistic. She quotes women’s rights advocate Marilou McPhedran: “The Bernardo case has been played out as a titillating drama.” But the author herself contributes to that drama, reviewing his crimes in detail (do we need to read all over again how he tortured his victims?) and writing about the fear before he was caught (shocking). Her own account is wrenching, but she didn’t need to package it as yet another story about Bernardo—even if his name helps sell magazines.
I grew up in Burlington, Ontario, where Leslie Mahaffy lived and was abducted. I remember the time between her kidnapping and Bernardo’s arrest. I was finally old enough to leave the house by myself but was told not to because I was a girl of a certain age.
We may have failed to understand what the Bernardo case has done to us, as Fowles suggests, but I’ve always known that it affected me, along with a generation of women growing up in southern Ontario. Her story provides an important opportunity for us to reflect on that.
— Mark Obbie (@MarkObbie) November 28, 2013
Josiah Neufeld’s “The Way We Give” (December) delivers a refreshing analysis of charitable giving. I teach Christian ethics at an independent Mennonite high school, and I often struggle to explain and model altruism—especially in relation to global poverty. I look forward to reading and discussing Neufeld’s essay with my students.
Small, fragile countries such as Burkina Faso highlight the difficulty of sustaining strong, meaningful communities within our global economic system. Neufeld’s childhood friend Mamadou, with his constant requests, knows that only by shifting to a gift economy can we begin to rebuild interpersonal connections.
Brentwood Bay, BC
— Sonam Ringpa (@MoSistaSonam) December 9, 2013
David Wilson’s “Air Apparent” (December) is excellent. I have been flying in the Twin Otter, the best remote-area workhorse, since the late ’60s when Atlas Aviation founder Weldy Phipps bought his beloved CF-WWP. The Beaver and the Single Otter may be Canadian gems, but the Twin Otter is the crowning jewel.
Fortunately, Twin Otter number two is prominently displayed at the Aero Space Museum of Calgary, donated by Kenn Borek Air and painted in the company colours. In addition, the final assembly plant for the new models is located just 500 metres away.
Tamalik Air in Labrador once flew Twin Otters exclusively—all painted red. There’s even a song to the tune of “Silver Threads and Golden Needles” that starts, “Old red Otter’s leaving Goose Bay for the coast of Labrador.”
New Harbour, NL
Masa Takei’s “Hello to Arms” (December) concludes, “There are some things you just can’t anticipate.” Yet this is Canada. If a home-invading thug ever confronts Takei, things will go like this:
“Oh, excuse me, Mr. Thug. I have to go and find the key to my gun safe. No—wait there, please! Let me get ready. Ah, found the key. Could you wait right there? No, no, don’t come in yet. (To law-abiding self: “Now, where the heck did I put that trigger lock key?”) “I’ll be with you shortly, Mr. Thug. Now I just have to find my ammo.”
In Canada, if you successfully defend yourself with a handgun (or any firearm, for that matter), you must have stored it illegally and are subject to having it seized. You are far safer from prosecution if you learn a martial art or keep a baseball bat handy.
Saanich Peninsula, BC
Ricardo Sternberg’s “A Prince’s Soliloquy” (December) is beautiful. I have written out the lines to hang above my desk. Thank you for publishing a poetic reminder that not everything is improved with more. Sometimes, things can be perfect just as they are.
Amanda Le Rougetel
Ah, how sad to remember those frog moments. I love the “velvet britches” and the wish to be unkissed.
— Colleen N.W. (@Westendork) November 18, 2013
— Armine Yalnizyan (@ArmineYalnizyan) November 27, 2013
— Adam C-F (@AdamCF) November 24, 2013
This appeared in the March 2014 issue.