Hot Docs 2015 Review: Survivors Rowe
The reality of sex abuse in Ontario’s First Nations communities is explored in this short but perfect film. This is a reality that most shockingly does not offer much justice to the survivors even to this day.
In just under 30 minutes and with three survivors, Joshua Frogg, John Fox and Ralph Winter we are told the story. A handsome and charismatic young Anglican minister, named Ralph Rowe, managed to dupe community after community as he preyed upon their youth. Rowe was also a Boy Scout leader – using the natural world these boys so loved against them. Through the stories bravely told by each of these men, we are given a clear picture of how just one man destroyed an entire generation of boys. These men, the survivors, are part of a minority who have managed to reclaim their lives. Rowe having been responsible for causing an epidemic of suicide, drug abuse and crime in the communities he terrorised. Each survivor begins by describing their childhoods in Northern Ontario, so idyllic and innocent, that the crimes committed against them seem all the more horrific.
Rowe is estimated to have abused around 500 children. In total he has served only five years and at present is living in British Columbia.
This is a film that serves as a testament to the truth and the incredible strength of the survivors even when justice has been so elusive.