Documentary: Widows of Asbestos (working title)

In April 2019, AREA Fund provided a grant to Trent University University for the initial screening of film maker Natasha Luckhardt’s documentary “Widow’s of Asbestos”. The grant was to assist with costs associated with this initial screening.

While there are many of these widows, the film focuses on those who have lost their lives to occupational cancer at General Electric in Peterborough. The widows are the ones left to tell the details of the asbestos-ridden clothing their husbands would come home in and how their husband's shoes were tainted blue from the chemicals and white from the asbestos. They are the ones who can speak to the history of the “Electric City” as Peterborough was coined in its manufacturing glory and the dynamics of spending their whole lives in a town whose industry both kept the city going, and made the people sick. They are also the ones who, after losing their husbands, have lost their battle with the compensation system or who, after 20 years, have still not received a final response either way. And yet, their lives have not been overcome with pure grief; they laugh, they cry, they reminisce and they remember.

Asbestos is often seen as a relic of the past; Natasha wanted to show that this issue is still very much alive and the impact it still has in communities such as Peterborough. The documentary talks about the history of what was known as the “magic mineral”, the conflicting dynamics of working for a company that used this dust and yet brought home the daily bread, the head-spinning nature of the compensation system and the metallic odour that was always lingering around the manufacturing plants in Peterborough and staining the houses around it.

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