It has been years since former Red Deerian Amanda Lindhout has visited the City but she will return May 13th.
‘An Evening with Amanda Lindhout in Red Deer – In Support of the Azer Kids’, will take place at the Harvest Centre at Westerner Park.
“I’m really happy to be able to come home and to help a really good cause at the same time,” said Lindhout.
On Monday, Lindhout and her mother, Lorinda Stewart, were on The Current where they played never before heard audio from a phone call between Stewart and Lindhout when she was in captivity. “It is really awful. It was right after I had been assaulted for three days and they brought the phone and it was an intense phone call with my mom. We just decided that we were going to use this at the Alison Azer event. My messaging and my story will be my life story but with a focus on my relationship with my mother and my efforts of my mother to bring me back home – that mother/daughter connection,” said Lindhout. “And for the first time ever at a public event I will be playing this audio recording. I’ve never played it at an event before.”
Azer’s husband was charged with the abduction of their four children last summer after he did not return them to her following a trip to Europe. The couple separated a number of years ago and he was legally permitted to leave the country with their children but a custody order stated he had to return by Aug. 21st. Azer has not seen her children since and believes her children are now in the Middle East.
“We consider ourselves friends and really solid supporters of Alison. I’m crafting this whole message because it’s really about bringing Alison home to her kids and this phone call and theme of my talk really indicates in my situation to how a mother’s love and absolute resolve ended up bringing me home. It’s really incredible that the relationship that my mother and I have now, on the other side of everything, we lost each other for a long time and my mother worked so hard to get me back and to bring me back to Canada. We share a real friendship now and a closeness. We’re closer now than we have ever been,” Lindhout said, adding attendees will hear Azer’s story during the event as well.
“It’s a really great opportunity to support an Albertan mom whose four children have been abducted. The media is starting to pick up her story and she is starting to talk to bigger audiences. It is such an important story for Albertans.”
Lindhout’s book, A House in the Sky, which she co-authored with Sara Corbett of the New York Times, has been on the Canadian Top 10 Bestseller list for 110 straight weeks. It has been translated into a dozen languages and has been released all across the world. The book details accounts of torture, despair and ultimate survival in the 15-months she spent in captivity in Somalia after being kidnapped in 2008.
“I love that the book has reached so many people,” said Lindhout. “I feel really grateful that people really want to read this story.”
It was announced last year that her book will be hitting the big screen as Annapurna Pictures, who has also backed Zero Dark Thirty and American Hustle will produce the film. Actress Rooney Mara will star in the film as well. Mara is best known for her Oscar-nominated role in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Lindhout said the screenplay is complete and a director has been chosen, although Lindhout said she cannot release the name of the director at this point.
Meanwhile, Lindhout has been doing speaking engagements for a number of years now and she said it has been somewhat of a healing experience for her as well.
“I often thank audiences when I’m finished a speaking engagement – when I get into a room in front of kind, thoughtful people who really are open to receiving what I have to say – it’s a real gift to me because every time I can own the story and put words to it, some sort of healing takes place in me. Even the audience plays a role in it. It’s really amazing,” said Lindhout. “The things that I am talking about are important themes – cultural acceptance and forgiveness. If I have these important messages to share, so I should and I feel good about my role in the world in doing this. It’s amazing the opportunities that I’ve been granted – over the last year I have spoke in 25 different countries around the world. This message of this young woman from Red Deer, Canada has become international.”
Lindhout is part of the National Speakers Bureau of Canada and she was their number one booked speaker from the agency in 2015. She did nearly 70 speaking engagements last year talking on a range of topics.
Just recently, Lindhout relocated to Toronto from Canmore where she has lived for years. She is currently pursuing a journalism career.
“I love writing, I always have. At a certain point last year there was an itch I needed to scratch. I wanted to write and I wanted to work on stories and I started to do that. I took on a couple of writing jobs and I’ve had these cool opportunities to fulfill my greatest dream as a young woman in my early 20s which was to be a journalist. I’ve been able to step into that this year in a way that feels really natural and really good.”
For tickets, visit www.eventbrite.ca and search ‘Amanda Lindhout’.