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What a Year.

Hi Everyone,

If you’re still reading this, you are one of the five people who have hung in on this site, despite my very sluggish/non-existent updating. Thank you for your perserverance. My apologies. It has been quite a year. (The Twitter link is now fixed, too.)

That Lonely Section of Hell is now out in paperback. I will have more exciting news about this book and where it’s going in the very near future. I don’t mean to sound cryptic, but I really am sworn to secrecy right now. It should be cool and worth the wait.

This year, I published a book, started an MA program, transitioned to male, spoke on stage at Lincoln Centre, had dinner at the United Nations, lost my father, and met so many amazing people, I can’t begin to name them all or describe those experiences in a blog. I am so profoundly grateful for all that has happened and truly fortunate to have had my Dad here long enough to share much of it with me. More about that, too.

I wish you all good things. Stay tuned.

Lorimer

 

Spreading the Word

I’m sitting here in New York preparing for a panel discussion on Canada’s Shame, which is our nation’s failure to recognize and respond to the crisis that is Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada. This discussion is part of a three-day event called the Women in the World Summit, created and hosted by Tina Brown and the New York Times to bring women and their allies together to discuss global issues affecting women, and therefore, all of us.

My hope for the book was that it would not only discuss the details of our failed investigation, but that it would serve as a blueprint for ensuring similar mistakes would not be made in future. To be able to take this conversation to a broader level is something I had always envisioned when I wrote the book.

I’ve been fortunate to speak to a variety of groups recently; from law students to Indigenous organizations to writers’ festivals to police departments and I anticipate continuing this work. Drawing attention to the classism, racism, and sexism that permeate this issue; the police incompetence and indifference when investigating these crimes; and to the larger rape culture we exist within is something we all can do.

I look forward to sitting with our moderator John Hockenberry; family members Michele Pineault and Melina Laboucan-Massimo; and the Hon. Carolyn Bennett, Canadian Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, as we discuss Canada’s Shame and what we can do to end this tragedy once and for all.

What’s a Guy Gotta Do to Come Out, Already?

Many of you are aware that I began transitioning to male in the fall of 2015. When I began, I was still in the process of telling family, friends and schoolmates and I didn’t feel any great desire to come out publicly until most had had a chance to hear about it from me.

I also felt a powerful need to not complicate the release of my book with this personal metamorphosis because they simply have nothing to do with each other. I wanted the book to remain about the missing and murdered women and not about me. I have known I was trans since I was four and I held off transitioning for many years because of feeling trapped by the case and all that happened. I wanted to be emotionally ready. I wanted my immediate family to have time and space to adjust.

I don’t consider myself a public person, nor do I believe that most people care about my gender identity or what I look like, but I have recognized how central a qualifier gender is in our society and in how we communicate with and about people around us.

Many people – myself included – feel some need to label, to identify, to put to correct words and pronouns the person they see in front of them. This is how we interact in our society. This isn’t news to trans and gender variant people; we’ve learned this through living the painful experience where our gender of birth is so profoundly at odds with how we see ourselves.

Whether you’re a public person or not, coming out is a deeply personal decision and process – the choice of when and how to do so should be left to that person. I feel incredibly fortunate that the people in my life and the reporters I have dealt with during the book’s release have chosen not to make my transition a big deal or a news piece on its own. There are far more important issues in the world needing attention.

The recent outing of filmmaker Lily Wachowski by The Daily Mail drove home for me how important it is to be able to take control of one’s coming out. I’ve had a plan, followed it, I feel good about it, and I was just lucky that no one took my power away. I’ve used my new name and pronouns recently on national radio, but still it hasn’t quite stuck, which I find kind of funny. So, I’m telling you all now.

I actually knew about Lily’s transition weeks ago. Her story prompted me to write this and add my support to all the trans and gender variant people out there who don’t enjoy the love and acceptance and support that she and I do. The trans community needs people to come out, but only on their terms when they feel safe, never before. Trans people are assaulted and killed in epidemic numbers, especially trans women of colour, and their safety should be of paramount concern.

I would request that going forward people address me using the male pronouns he, him, his and the name Lorimer, although Lori is still fine. I have all the room in the world for honest mistakes borne of genuine effort. I still make mistakes, too. I believe almost all people are essentially well-meaning; many just don’t know what to do or say and feel they are either damned if they ask or damned if they take a guess and are wrong.

Thanks to my family, friends, everyone at Greystone Books and Royal Roads University, and all of you who have had my back. It means the world to me. I can say transitioning has been a great relief for me and I have never felt happier.

Lorimer

 

My Thoughts on a Book by a Convicted Serial Killer

My initial inclination when I first heard of this book was not to dignify its existence with a response. However, I’ve been asked for my reaction several times, so here it is. Someone needs to speak in defense of the victims’ loved ones.

You’ll notice I am deliberately not naming the book or its author because I choose not to give this work any more notoriety or recognition than I already have here.

I believe deeply in the power of story; to heal, to enlighten, to empower, and to shed light in dark corners where we need to go. My own book strives to do these things and I truly hope those family members who have read it found it helpful and not hurtful. Many have told me they have. If I’d thought it would hurt them I never would have written it.

I haven’t read any of this book, nor do I ever intend to in the interest of my own mental health. I do know that in the fewer than 24 hours I have been aware of it, family members of this man’s victims have reached out to me and in the media expressing deep pain and hurt. These scabs have been torn off yet again on wounds that have never been given time to even begin healing.

These are anguished people who have been through absolute hell for so many years. Many of them suffer physical and mental illnesses as a direct result of losing their loved ones and bearing witness to this unspeakable tragedy. The circumstances around this book are so disgusting and unseemly, I can only imagine how they must be feeling. It is cruel and hurtful that it exists.

Yes, there ought to be a law. There may even be one, but I don’t know what it would be or how it would apply or be enforced. In the interests of common decency, I hope people simply ignore this work and decline to give this man a soapbox.

As always, I wish the victims’ loved ones peace.

 

 

 

 

 

New Year, New Info

I’m laughing to myself as I write this, wondering if anyone out there follows the blog of someone who only updates twice a year. My bad.

I have a few things to report about That Lonely Section of Hell. The first is that the Ontario Library Association has named it a nominee for their 2016 Evergreen Award. Have a look at the list; I think you’ll agree the book is in very impressive company and I don’t know if I’m even qualified to carry their laptops, but I’m deeply honoured.

The wonderful people at the Campbell River Words on the Water Writers’ Festival have kindly invited me to join them on March 11 and 12 to talk writing and the book. I’m thrilled to be partnered with the incredibly accomplished Tracey Lindberg, author of Birdie, another Evergreen Award nominee and CBC Canada Reads selection for 2016. Check out her bio, there’s too much for me to enter here! I’m very excited to hang with her.

Listen to this CBC Doc Project documentary via Definitely Not the Opera on CBC Radio One (the link is live now, but airing Feb. 6) for Angela Sterritt’s moving piece on the life and work of Indigenous activist Lorelei Williams. I talk with Angela as she and I walk near the site of the Pickton farm, which is somewhere I haven’t been since Feb. 2002. Both Lorelei and Angela are talented, brave, resilient, Indigenous women I’m deeply in awe of.

Still in the works, but I’m planning to head up to the Whistler area in March to speak with a group of people at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre about the book and missing and murdered indigenous women. I’m looking forward to this very much, thanks to Linda Epp for making it happen. More details once I know.

 

 

 

 

 

A Story of Redemption

My past several weeks have been filled with meaningful connections with friends old and new. I have connected with readers of my book and been heartened that they understood my intentions for writing it.

I spent an amazing three weeks in October at Royal Roads University working on my Master’s of Professional Communications degree under the guidance of brilliant professors and staff and my wonderful cohort of 46 others from across Canada.

While there, I slipped away to speak at the Edmonton Literary Festival and the Vancouver Writers Festival. Both events provoked much thought and conversation in the immediate lead up to and aftermath of the Federal Election. The feeling of healing and moving forward was palpable at each event and I felt so honoured to be part of it and witness the change coming to our great country and anticipate a functional national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.

While at the Vancouver Writers Festival, I had an experience that renewed a small bit of my pride in having been a police officer. As we were heading into the venue, a middle aged man approached me, calling my name. He introduced himself and while his name rang a bell, I asked him to remind me of how we knew each other.  He said I’d arrested him and I replied somewhat glibly that I had arrested a lot of people and he’d need to tell me more.

He only had to say “You arrested me on Marine Drive” and recognition lit my mind up like a pinball machine. I smiled at him and took in his clear eyes, overall fitness and warm smile. His adventure had been one of the few stories from my policing career I could tell my kids. We chatted about how he was doing, the book, and our lives since that day over 20 years ago.

The bank robbery call rang out over all channels and my partner Cheryl felt certain we could make it through Vancouver’s West Side in our unmarked car during midday and catch him at his requested destination of an apartment at Heather and Marine.

She drove the old Impala at breakneck speed and I recall vividly wrapping my arms around my head as we rocketed through the red at Granville and King Edward, cement truck bearing down on us out my passenger side window. I remember the whoosh as it passed behind us, missing our back end narrowly because Cheryl gunned the engine hard to outrun it.

Radio told us the cab had stopped in the parking lot of the old Husky station at the corner of 70th and Marine and we were right there. We were also told the coloured dye pack the robber had taken exploded in the car. I jumped out on foot, gun hidden under my plain clothes, terrified that he might try to rob this place, too, even if covered in coloured dye. I could see the cab, but no passenger and I scrambled around the building trying to get a view inside the convenience store.

Like a Wile. E. Coyote cartoon, I went around one side of the building and he popped out of the other, and luckily Cheryl saw him jump back in the cab. She roared up to me and I dived into the still-moving police car and we gave chase, but by then the cab was a good three quarters of a block west of us on Marine and turning north on Heather.

We saw the cab pulling over, but we were too far back in traffic to be able to arrest him before he went inside a building, so I ran up the rear lane and Cheryl took the front, where we would each hold positions until the promised ERT and dog units who were on the way would arrive.

We had occasion to talk as he was on a back balcony and I watched him from the rear lane. I won’t share that, but he was deeply troubled and knew he had no way out and I tried to help him through that. Long story short, when he was brought out of the building, he was left to Cheryl and me for interviewing and processing. He and I had a long talk. I remember him telling me about his life and how he would be doing hard time for this one.

When we met again that October 2015 day at the Writers Festival, he told me he had decided then and there on Heather Street to do his time and never go back. And he hadn’t. He got out after serving several years and stayed clean. He was proud to tell me as I signed the copy of my book he’d bought that he was writing, too. He looked great and I realized we were probably close in age, but I remember back then feeling so young and miles apart from the people I arrested who had lived so many lifetimes in so few years.

As we talked, I thought about redemption.

 

Thoughts on My Book Launch (or Working to be a Better Ally)

I like to talk. Everyone who knows me at all knows this.

As I move into what I hope will be the role of an admittedly imperfect ally, I recognize that it is now time to listen. I may think I know what is needed, but I’m looking into worlds I have only glimpsed as an outsider coming from a place of great prviledge and entitlement.

I’m not First Nations or the most knowledgable on Indigenous issues, but I’m trying to learn. I’m not the best woman out there, but I have lived that experience my entire life and witnessed how women are treated. I’m not a sex worker, but I’ve acted as one in an undercover capacity. I’m not a drug addict, but I have stuggled with addiction to alcohol. None of these experiences makes me an expert on someone else’s life.

The launch of That Lonely Section of Hell felt like a pivotal event for me. I have a few more interviews coming along this week I’ll link to soon but my time for talking is winding down. I’m ready to start to listen. The launch was so wonderful and I’m grateful to Maggie de Vries, Kerry Porth, Senator Larry Campbell, Sandy Garossino, everyone at Greystone, the Vancouver Public Library and the Vancouver Observer for putting it all together. It was a great event and I felt the love.

But the event also highlighted how far we have to go. Portions of the program shone a harsh light into some very dark corners where understanding and entitlement have not yet met. When you’re in a position of power, people will not always tell you the truth. People will not tell you when you’re wrong. People will not easily tell you to shut up so others can speak their truths. People might not point out that you haven’t been listening at all. You might not hear it when they do.

There is more to being an ally than learning the lingo and taking a superficial view of a very complex set of deep societal problems. I know this is an area I need to delve into and educate myself more on. I recognize that.

We all have our traumas and our lived experiences as minorities, visible and invisible. When we are well-meaning, our work can harm us. The trick is seeing that our own traumas don’t automatically make us undertstand the struggles and experiences of others. We can empathize, but we need to listen and truly hear the stories of others to grow and become the allies they need us to be.

I’ll be talking less now and learning more as I dive into my MA studies this next month. Thank you all for listening and for your support.

L

 

 

 

 

Updated Launch Info and Media Links

Note: the Launch link has been fixed. My apologies for the problem.

 

Hi Everyone,

Again, I want to thank you all so much for reading the book and for letting me know what you think about it. I’ve had four people tell me it was the best book they had ever read, which, while flattering, makes me ask, “What else have you read?” Seriously, I am overwhelmed by the feedback. Tell your pals! Review it on Amazon!

Here are some links to our upcoming book launch at the Vancouver Public Library (click the link) and some of the media I’ve done this past week.

Book Launch and Panel Discussion

The Walrus Magazine piece by Stacey May Fowles called “Coming Back From Hell

APTN Face to Face interview with Michael Hutchinson Sept. 15, 2015

Vancouver Province piece by Nick Eagland Sept. 13, 2015

CFAX Radio interview with Pamela McCall Sept.16, 2015

Watch The Toronto Star, National Post and Vancouver Magazine for upcoming reviews and features on That Lonely Section of Hell.

Thanks for checking in.

L

What a Week

Greetings, friends.

I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the positive response to my book, the Globe excerpt and the interview I did on CBC’s The Current. I am so pleased that the people who are reading the book and have given me feedback seem to completely “get” what I am trying to convey.  Thank you all for your kind messages. If there was negative, I sure didn’t hear of it, although I have big shoulders if anyone has an issue to raise.

While this story is obviously held together by the true crime framework, I hope readers will find there is much more to it than merely a post mortem of an investigation epically mismanaged and flawed.

In the midst of all this, I began courses for my MA in Professional Communications this week. Suffice to say, I am paddling hard to keep my head above water, answering emails, Tweets, texts, the phone, doing more interviews, writing, and getting a handle on my coming assignments and reading. I’m not complaining, but I am making sure I take some breaks as needed. My sleep has returned to a higher level of disturbance, but I’m hoping that will be temporary.

I’m also learning through immersion about the world of promoting a book in Canada. Long story, but there will not be a Globe and Mail review tomorrow. Apparently, there are “rules” around how much exposure books can get. Or something like that. I’m still patting myself on the back for not fawning all over Anna Maria Tremonti in adulation, even though I was so tempted. That woman’s brain is a national treasure and her team is just terrific. Many thanks to them again for the opportunity to speak.

There is now a National Post excerpt coming soon, a Vancouver Magazine excerpt, my first TV interview (since Vicky Gabareau a million years ago) with APTN’s incomparable Michael Hutchinson, airing Tuesday, Sept. 14 on Face2Face right after the news, a cover piece in the Sept. 13 Province newspaper, and several others we haven’t quite nailed down dates for.

Last thing: check out The Walrus magazine Sept. 14 for Stacey May Fowles’ interview with me, as well as an excerpt in both their print and online editions. I think she may also be reviewing the book? No one tells me anything! I so enjoyed speaking with her.

I’ve also written a piece for Quill and Quire coming in October dealing with the relationship between memoir and trauma.

Phew.

Have a great weekend and please remember to vote Oct. 19th

L

P.S. As happened after my Missing Women Commission of Inquiry testimony, I am receiving anguished requests for help with police investigations from victims and witnesses who felt they were not receiving adequate service from or being taken seriously by police. Please know I sympathsize and am where I am because of my own lack of faith in the system. I can try where I can to point people in the right direction, but I’m no longer a police officer and have little access to that world. Please call 9-11 in your community and demand that an officer take your report and follow up with you. I wish you luck and hope we can change this dynamic in time.

 

Books Going on Shelves and First Review

I know some of you have had the unfortunate experience of going into the bookstore to find That Lonely Section of Hell is either not in or already sold out. Online sellers have plenty and the stores are stocking the book this week. Thanks for your support and perseverance.

Because the Globe & Mail had an exclusive for the excerpt, stores could not sell the book until that paper went to press on Saturday. Now, we are good to go! Apparently, the Globe & Mail’s review will be out tomorrow or Saturday of this week.

Here is the first review I’ve found of the book in yesterday’s Winnipeg Free Press. Take note: the first two paragraphs are more graphic and dark than anything in the book and contain some details I’m not familiar with. I hope no one gets the impression this book is all about grisly crime scene descriptions, because it most certainly is not. That said, once I got past those paragraphs, I found this review quite fair and reasonably accurate – can’t hope for more than that!

And finally, keep your ear tuned to CBC Radio One on Thursday Sept. 10th for my interview with Anna Maria Tremonti of The Current. This is assuming I’m not bumped for any candidates-peeing-in-sinks stories.

L