By Deborah Gyapong, Canadian Catholic News
[OTTAWA – Canadian Catholic News (CCN)] — On Mother’s Day 2019, the Missing Project began the first of a daily online roll-out of abortion-related video testimonies that will wrap up on Canada Day with a feature-length documentary.
Through the 50 stories, the Missing Project examines the impact of 50 years of legalized abortion in Canada since the passage of the 1969 legislation that paved the way for abortion on demand.
One video, released early on World Down Syndrome Day March 21, has received more than 64,000 views, said Natalie Sonnen, executive director of LifeCanada, one of the groups behind the Missing Project, along with Weneedalaw.ca, Crossroads Canada, and Faith Beyond Belief.
“We also wanted to show Canadians what has been missing,” Sonnen said. “There’s missing medical information, aside from the missing people. Even economically-speaking there’s been a huge impact of having had abortion for 50 years in Canada.”
“We really wanted to capture that and show Canadians the debate is not over, it continues,” Sonnen said. “It is still very raw for many Canadians
One of the videos features an interview with a woman whose father was one of the main abortionists in 1980s Alberta, Sonnen said. Others feature people working in the pro-life movement, “putting some faces to some of the people who are touched by abortion by being the ones who step up, before or after abortion, or who educate people about what abortion is,” Sonnen said. “We have so much misinformation or lack of information about what abortion is.”
Another video features the story of a man who was arrested and imprisoned with several others, including a Catholic priest, for violating the abortion bubble zone law in British Columbia.
Stories include “near misses,” of people who had their babies despite almost going through with abortion. There are also adoption stories, and stories of people who have had abortions, Sonnen said.
“It’s going very well,” said Mike Schouten, director of WeNeedaLaw.ca and director of advocacy for ARPA Canada. “We’re really excited about it.”
Schouten said what he finds most unique about the project is that producer and director, Ryan Stockert of Thunder and Light Studios in Calgary “was a total outsider” to the pro-life movement and without “any ideas on how things had gone” over the past 50 years.
Schouten, Sonnen, and Jojo Ruba or Faith Beyond Belief put Stockert in touch with a range of people in from their contact lists and “he developed the story,” said Schouten.
Stockert said he started reaching out to the contacts given him by the various groups last December. These people in turn also sent recommendations of “people they knew had a good story.”
He boiled down the potential interview subjects to 100, and 50 responded.
“I didn’t want 40 stories just from post-abortive women,” Stockert said. “I wanted to show how abortion impacts a community, a family. It impacts relationships, physical health, mental health and spiritual health.”
“I wanted to show the trauma post-abortive women go through both physically, mentally and spiritually and have the father’s voices that have been missing in the conversation,” he said. “I wanted to show the pain that men go through as well.”
“There’s a lot of men who pressure women too have an abortion,” he said. “There are a lot of men who fight to keep their kids, but legally they don’t have a right to saying anything in this country. They don’t have a legal voice in this.”
“I also wanted to feature people who chose life even though it was hard,” he said. “There were many blessings that came out of that and they wouldn’t do it differently.”
“I’m in love with all my testimonies,” Stockert said. “It’s hard to feature just one.”
The viral video released early, on World Down Syndrome Day, shows the story of Sarah Valiquette-Thompson who had to “fight and fight” to keep her child, diagnosed with Trisomy 21, Stockert said. “People would call her at home and say, ‘Do you know what kind of burden this is going to be on you and the health care system?’” he said.
“At the end, I get to show this beautiful little boy who is alive, an amazing blessing,” he said. “It even makes me tear up as a I tell it. It is such a wonderful story.”
Stockert also thinks of the story of two men who didn’t have a say in their child living. “One of the guys went on a huge self-destructive lifestyle for the next few months and ended up trying to commit suicide by jumping out of a vehicle going 110 kms. on a highway. His friend grabbed him by the collar to keep him inside.”
Stockert, an Evangelical Christian, left his full-time job as a TV producer for Yes TV in Calgary to work on The Missing Project full-time.
During his exit interview with Lorna Dueck, CEO of Crossroads, she told him if the Missing Project needed a charity for donations purposes, to make it a Crossroads production. “That’s how Crossroads came on.”
The Missing Project is based entirely on donations, and has raised only about a half of its budget, Stockert said. “I’ve taken the costs on myself to get this done.”
“It’s been really eye opening,” Stockert said. “It’s been really great that I didn’t come in with a bias, or specific connection to any group. I came at probably as most Canadians will come at it.”
“It’s all brand new and fresh, so the average Canadian can catch up with what’s been happening over the last 50 years and feel equipped to get involved in the prolife movement, or get involved some way and know why that’s important.”
The videos can be viewed at http://www.missing-project.ca