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Rehtaeh Parsons’s father to co-write book about tragedy with author Susan McClelland

Glen Canning and Susan McClelland

Rehtaeh Parsons’s father, Glen Canning, will co-write a book about his daughter’s sexual assault and subsequent suicide, to be published by Goose Lane Editions in 2020. The book will be co-written with journalist and non-fiction author Susan McClelland. The deal was arranged by Rob Firing at the Transatlantic Agency.

Canning, who speaks to high schools and universities about violence prevention, has called the book a memorial to his daughter that also contextualizes her tragedy within systemic societal failures, such as rape culture and victim blaming. He will also interrogate his own personal history, including his experience of being abused as a child by a family member.

McClelland’s previous books include Sungju Lee’s Every Falling Star, which recounts a 12-year-old’s life on the streets in North Korea, and Mariatu Kamara’s Bite of the Mango, about a 12-year-old girl who survived an attack in rural Sierra Leone, which included her assailants severing her hands. She told the Chronicle Herald newspaper that her interest in Canning’s project was inspired, in part, by raising her own teen daughters in a society that both preys on and shames young women’s sexuality.

Rehtaeh was a 17-year-old student who committed suicide in Halifax in 2013 after she was sexually assaulted, an act which was captured in a photo that was circulated in her school and beyond, and used as fodder for further verbal assaults. Two of the four teenage boys investigated in connection with the assault plead guilty to child pornography-related charges and were sentenced to probation. The injustices in how the case was tried lead to Nova Scotia introducing new laws around cyberbullying.

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