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Virago Speakeasy at Pages Cheshire Street: Empowering Victims

January 29 @ 19:00 - 21:00

Red River Girl
Red River Girl

When reporting on disempowered women, murder cases and other cultures, how can journalists honour the victims and tell the whole story? Join BBC reporter and author of Red River Girl, Joanna Jolly with journalist, crime writer, and director of Killer Women, Mel McGrath for this conversation on empowering victims. We will be tackling the dark heart of Canada and its missing and murdered Indigenous women, finding ways to confront police investigations, legal trials and make the world take notice.

Red River Girl by Joanna Jolly

A gripping account of the unsolved death of an Indigenous teenager, the detective determined to find her killer and a country's hidden secrets

On 17 August 2014, the body of fifteen-year old Indigenous runaway Tina Fontaine was found weighted down in the Red River in the Canadian city of Winnipeg.

The loss of Tina was a tragedy for her family and for the Indigenous community. But it also exposed a national scandal: Indigenous women are vastly more likely than other Canadians to be assaulted and killed. Over the past few decades, hundreds had been murdered - or simply gone missing. Many of these cases have never been solved.

Tina's Fontaine's death caused an outcry across Canada. The police investigation and trial that followed sparked a widespread debate on the treatment of Indigenous women, while the movement protesting those missing and murdered became an international news story.

In an astonishing feat of investigation, award-winning BBC reporter and documentary maker Joanna Jolly has reconstructed Tina's life, from her childhood on the Sagkeeng First Nation Reserve to her difficult teenage years. Red River Girl is the compelling story of the elaborate police investigation into Fontaine's death and the detective obsessed with bringing her killer to justice - and an exploration of the dark side of a country known for its tolerance and liberal values. It reveals how Indigenous women, sex workers, community leaders and activists are fighting back to protect themselves and change perceptions. Most importantly, Red River Girl is an unforgettable description of the search for justice.

Joanna Jolly is an award-winning BBC reporter based in London. She began her journalism career at the Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun, moving on from there to freelance in India and Australia before covering the fight for independence in East Timor. Over the past decade, she's worked as a BBC producer and reporter in Jerusalem, South Africa, Brussels, Washington, and India as well as spending two years as the BBC correspondent in Kathmandu, Nepal. During that time Jolly specialized in stories of sexual violence against women. In 2016, she earned a prestigious Fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Jolly has won several awards, including the 2007 BBC Onassis Bursary. In 2014, she won the Association of International Broadcaster's best RADIO current affairs documentary award for her in-depth look at the prosecution of rape in India. In 2015, her documentary on missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada won the Amnesty Award for best radio. In 2017, she was awarded a Judges' Special Commendation at the RSL Giles St Aubyn Awards for Non-Fiction. Red River Girl is her first book.

The Guilty Party by Mel McGrath

On a night out, four friends lose each other in the crowd and witness a stranger in trouble. One by one they each decide to do nothing to help. Later, a body washes up on the banks of the Thames, and the group knows they have blood on their hands. But why did they each refuse to step in? What were they hiding? And who is really responsible?

Is it possible the victim wasn’t really a stranger at all?

Melanie McGrath is an Essex girl, cofounder of Killer Women, and an award-winning writer of fiction and nonfiction. As MJ McGrath she writes the acclaimed Edie Kiglatuk series of Arctic mysteries, White Heat, The Boy in the Snow and The Boneseeker, twice longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger and picked as Times and Financial Times thrillers of the year. As Melanie McGrath she wrote the critically acclaimed and bestselling family memoir Silvertown. As Mel McGrath she is the author of the psychological thriller Give Me The Child. She has been a documentary TV producer for Channel Four and presenter of Trailblazers for The Discovery Channel. She has written for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Observer, The Mail on Sunday and The Wall Street Journal and has taught creative writing at Arvon and at UEA, Roehampton, City Universities in the UK and the University of North Carolina. She won the John Llewellyn-Rhys-Mail on Sunday award for Best British writer under 35 for her first book, Motel Nirvana.


January 29
19:00 - 21:00


Pages Cheshire Street
020 7059 0273


Pages Cheshire Street
5 Cheshire Street
London, E2 6ED United Kingdom
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020 7059 0273