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09 January 2007

More Info Plus More Comment About a Mindless Murder in New Orleans

After Helen Hill, a 36-year-old animator and filmmaker, was murdered in her New Orleans home last Thursday, it was picked up as news by the major mass media in both the US and Canada.

I'm so aggravated and angry,” said Helen Gillet, an experimental cellist who gathered with about two dozen other friends of the couple outside their modest frame house in New Orleans's Faubourg Marigny neighbourhood late yesterday afternoon. “I'm outraged at what's going on in the community.

With the above quote, The Globe & Mail (Toronto, ONT, Canada) ran the story -- about Canadian-Americans: a murdered mother and a seriously injured father and a two-year-old son, Francis, who was unhurt -- by emphasizing his and her Canada connection as well as their activist commitments toward saving the NOLA community post-Katrina:

(Both) family doctor Paul Gailiunas, who grew up in Edmonton and trained in medicine in Halifax (and) Ms. Hill — who was born in the United States but took Canadian citizenship . . . were part of the community of artists, poets and other creative types, refugees from the rest of the United States and elsewhere, who have been drawn to New Orleans because of its singular history and culture. -- emphasis added by Blogaulaire

North of the border, it seems, this sort of story generates more comment on an Internet news website than in Louisiana, where it happened. On the G & M comment thread you find this example of cross-over posting in a 'comment-on-the-news' thread:

Carly MacKay from United States writes: Some of you posters make me sick. This was an article about a horrific tragedy suffered by a Canadian family who came to New Orleans to make a difference. Yet so many turn this into an opportunity to bash every American south of the border. Here is a newsflash, Americans don't think you live in igloos, we know you have electricity, the vast majority of us see the problems we face with a bozo in the White House, 3000 soldiers dead in Iraq, huge gaps between the rich and the middle class and the poor, AND yes for what ever reason Ray Nagin was re-elected in NO. So when one American makes a statement or asks a question like 'Is there electricity in Canada?' don't jump to the conclusion that all Americans are ignorant. Sometimes the only way some people can feel good about themselves is by degrading and insulting others. I wish some of the posters on this comment board had one speck of the intelligence, compassion and understanding that this couple had. I just wish that they had not gone to New Orleans. They will be in my thoughts and prayers. God bless Canada.
Posted 06/01/07 at 10:15 AM EST

Continuing to read the story in the the major mass media coverage from the US:

The Associated Press coverage (picked up by The Times of Shreveport (Louisiana, USA) did not make the Canada connection but gives greater depth to murder victim Helen Hill's cinematographic credits and the medical practise profile of injured physician-husband-father Paul Gailiunas. The Times also added an appeal that anyone with information come forward to help find the criminals responsible:

They had moved to the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood near the French Quarter about a year after Hurricane Katrina wiped out their home in the Mid-City neighborhood.

Police said both were shot at their front door about 5:30 a.m. Thursday. No other details were available. A friend said family members from Columbia, S.C., were on their way to New Orleans on Thursday after learning of the shooting.

“They were wonderful people. Two bright spots in New Orleans. They gave us hope that people could live together. And they’d do anything for anybody,” said Sheri Branch, who was taking care of the couple’s 2-year-old son while Gailiunas was hospitalized.

Hill made short films; her experimental animation shorts had been shown at a number of festivals in the United States and Canada.

She won a $35,000 fellowship in 2004 from the Rockefeller Foundation’s Program for Media Artists for her film “The Florestine Collection.” That film was described by the program as “reflecting on handcrafted work and race in New Orleans, through the personal story of a woman who made hand-sewn dresses.” She also taught filmmaking and animation to grade school through college students, the foundation’s news release said.

A Harvard graduate, she earned her master of fine arts in experimental animation from the California Institute of the Arts in 1995.

Gailiunas, who was in stable condition Thursday, opened a clinic for poor people in the Treme neighborhood in 2004. It was flooded by Katrina a year later.

The state Board of Medical Examiners lists him as working for Excelth Inc., a community-based group providing health care to poor people.

No witnesses to any of the killings has come forward, police said Thursday, begging for help to solve the most recent homicides.

A captioned photo gives the hard news:

New Orleans police investigate a shooting Thursday. Officers arriving on the scene at 5:20 a.m. discovered a man kneeling at the front door holding a 2-year-old boy in his arms. The man had been shot in his right hand, right cheek and left forearm. The boy was not injured. A woman who died at the scene had been shot in the neck. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

Friends of Helen Hill should go to this Internet address for more information or to participate in local memorial services, which will be organised in various spots across the continent.


Donations in memorium of Hill to Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) are suggested.

1 comment:

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