April 11, 2010

Helen Betty Osborne graphic novel

P&M Press is proud to announce The Life of Helen Betty Osborne is now available!Helen Betty Osborne dreamed of becoming a teacher. Sadly, her dream never came true. Helen left her home in Norway House, Manitoba, to attend Guy Hill Residential School in 1969. In September 1971, she entered Margaret Barbour Collegiate in The Pas, Manitoba. Two months later, on November 13, 1971, she was brutally murdered by four young, white men. Years later, the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry concluded that her murder was the result of racism, sexism, and indifference.

The Life of Helen Betty Osborne is a graphic novel about Betty’s life up to that tragic November day. Her story is told by a young boy named Daniel. The events in Betty’s story are true. The events in Daniel’s story represent our ability to change, learn, and grow.
Capturing the Life of Helen Betty Osborne, in words and pictures

By Susan PetersNovember 13, 1971, The Pas, Manitoba. Four young white men drive past Helen Betty Osborne, a 19-year-old Cree girl. They call for her to get in the car and party with them. “I think I heard a yes,” one man taunts. When she refuses, the men pull her into the car and drive off.

Flip the page, to illustrated panels showing the RCMP knocking on her mother’s door, about to deliver the news of Osborne’s rape and murder. Winnipeg author David Alexander Robertson uses the advantages of a graphic novel to detail the horrific event in his book, The Life of Helen Betty Osborne.

“Her story is really close to my heart. All of us involved in it really got to know her,” Robertson says. His father comes from Norway House, the same small northern community where Osborne spent her early years.

Robertson had self-published two novels when the Helen Betty Osborne Memorial Foundation asked him to write a book about Osborne’s murder to use in schools. He came up with the idea for a graphic novel telling the story of the girl’s last days, showing her hanging out at high school with her friends and dreaming of becoming a teacher—depicting her as a person, not a victim. What’s left for discussion is the racism, sexism and indifference behind the fact that only one of the four men implicated was ever convicted, and only sixteen years after the fact. It’s a tale of sloppy police work, townfolk who wouldn’t speak up about what they knew, and official indifference to a pattern of white men sexually harassing aboriginal women and girls.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Comic Books Featuring Indians.

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