Lynne Moss-Sharmon: An Extraordinary Person

I found out recently that Lynne Moss-Sharmon died on March 14, 2014 at the age of 65. We met long ago, probably before 1993. Our relationship, of course, centered around ritual abuse and mind control, although I was well aware of her activism in the Native American community. A dream catcher made by her specially for me has hung over my bed for twenty years. She sent me a wonderful cartoon for my refrigerator. It shows a baby looking up expectantly, then grown into a little girl, then into a woman, then into an old woman, who says, “Well, that sucked.” Cracks me up.

I was really sad but not surprised to hear of her death. I knew she was sick and I had not heard from her in several years. I wonder who will carry on her work, who will be inspired by her, who will receive her wisdom in a dream. The world feel peculiar to me without her.

This was written about Lynne when she was nominated by E. Jane Mundy for the June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Award for Voluntarism. Not sure if she got the award, but she should have. It’s posted at http://www.rigorousintuition.ca/board2/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=37894

 

Lynne Moss Sharman is a trauma survivor of organized child abuse and of domestic violence, who has spent the last twenty-five years educating and assisting other survivors The daughter of a Cape Breton Highlander from Newfoundland and a Scottish war bride, she grew up and lived in Hamilton before moving to Halifax at age 24 to study at the Nova Scotia School of Art and Design. Nine months pregnant, Lynne escaped an abusive relationship in Halifax just before giving birth to her only child, Zena. She then relocated back to the Hamilton area where she started an artist-run photographic gallery at Wesley Community Centre. While running the gallery with funding from the Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council, Lynne assisted in the creation of the Native Indian/Inuit Photographers Association and the first conference for Native and Inuit photographers to be held anywhere in the world.

In 1987, she felt impelled to move with her seven-year-old daughter to Thunder Bay to continue her cultural work with the Ojibwe people. Guidance came to her in the form of a complex dream of seven native grandfathers each of whom told her a different part of a generational story. Subsequently she became involved with the Native community through the creation of Definitely Superior, an artist-run gallery for which she acquired operational and curatorial grants. After a chance ride with cab driver Willy John, who described his dream of hosting a conference of WWII Native Veterans from Northwestern Ontario, Lynne drafted grant applications and organized the first reunion of these veterans, followed by another gathering attended by Elijah Harper.

In Thunder Bay, Lynne began going to native healing circles where she met different elders and started unraveling her own memories of severe childhood trauma. Later, with the help of a therapist who had worked with survivors of severe abuse including residential school survivors, Lynne began uncovering memories of Cold War medical experimentation dating from her early childhood. With therapist Kerry Bourret’s support, Lynne made over 150 drawings including portraits of doctors and sketches of procedures and implements used. Other victims of similar abuse, including some who testified in 1994 at the Clinton Commission on Human Radiation Experiments (ACHRE), later validated these drawings. Together with other survivors, Lynne approached the Ontario government and secured funding to put on three conferences in the mid 1990s, which were well attended by both native and non-native survivors. Workers from various social agencies came from Toronto, Sault Ste. Marie, and Winnipeg, along with residential school survivors from fly-in reserves.

Receiving a one-year contract to do art therapy with boys in foster care and group homes, and frustrated by the unresponsiveness of certain agencies who often sent abused children back to live with their perpetrators, Lynne completed her Honors’ degree in Social Work at Lakehead University so she could become a stronger advocate for victims.

Over the years as both a spokesperson and archivist, Lynne has built a library of much-needed information on Ritual Abuse, CIA experimentation on children and prisoners, missing and murdered native women, trafficking of women and children, Native survivors of adoption and current abuses involving CAS and Dilico Ojibwe Child & Family Services. Her archive on missing and murdered native women is the largest in Canada, highly valued as an important resource by the Aboriginal Native Women’s Association.

Lynne’s outreach has touched thousands of survivors globally and continues to grow. As an advocate for native women, Lynne has been active in the Elizabeth Fry Society, and compiled 23 Gladue Reports for Ojibwe and Cree women imprisoned in Thunder Bay. One particular outcome reduced a woman’s 25-year sentence to seven years with no restrictions on probation. Significantly, the Crown Attorney who had recommended the longer sentence was mandated to undergo Anti Racism training.

Twenty-six years after receiving the dreams and instructions from the Seven Grandfathers, Lynne, now 65, has never left Thunder Bay. Like many of her Anishinawbe friends, she suffers from poor health. Over a lifetime of dedicated volunteering, she recently was diagnosed with a rare lung disease often found in remote First Nation and Inuit communities and among native people who live on urban streets.

She remains deeply appreciative of the native Elders and healers for keeping her alive during her difficult healing journey. Her resourcefulness and tenacity have saved many lives. Her daughter Zena, a Ph.D. graduate currently working in gender and health care research at the University of British Columbia, is further proof that the cycle of child abuse can be broken, giving way to a full and active life.

Lynne hopes to donate her archives to a research / healing center where it could become an important resource for survivors from both native and non-native communities as well as for academic and other researchers studying the history of racial, institutional and domestic torture in Canada.

Lynne’s contributions in breaking the silence on violent crimes against humanity, the library of archives and her fight for social injustices has been invaluable for countless individuals. As well, it has created a safer place to raise our children in Ontario and through out the world. I believe Lynne is most deserving of the June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Award for Voluntarism.

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