Lorinda Stewart was at a friend’s house when she received a phone call that changed her life forever. Her daughter, journalist Amanda Lindhout, had been taken captive in Somalia.
“[That call] definitely rocked my world,” Stewart told a full house at the Calgary Public Library on Nov. 3 at an event hosted by Wordfest.
The pair answered questions from CTV Calgary’s Jocelyn Laidlaw and members of the audience while referring to Stewart’s new book, One Day Closer, and her life as a mother after the kidnapping in August 2008.
Lindhout’s award-winning novel, A House in the Sky, was published in 2013. Now, readers have the opportunity to hear Stewart’s side of the story which took many hard years to recover from.
Lindhout was finally released 460 days after Stewart received the first of many terrifying phone calls.
The 62-year-old mom, speaking with a tremor she referred to as “a manifestation of stress,” became the leading negotiator during her daughter’s captivity.
Stewart was trained by the RCMP for the job. Each member of the negotiating team sat beside her and guided her through every phone call she had to make with the main captor. His alias was Adam.
Adam was the voice of the Somalian group who kidnapped Lindhout and her associate, Nigel Brennan. He is an Australian photographer that traveled with Lindhout throughout their dangerous ventures.
With all this commotion already going on within the walls of her ex-husband’s house in Sylvan Lake, Stewart was sworn to keep her new life a secret. If the media determined what they were up to, Lindhout’s captors would also soon find out.
“Knowing my daughter’s life could be on the line made it pretty easy to lie,” she said.
Explaining the title of her new book, the phrase “One day closer,” manifested itself as Stewart’s mantra throughout the negotiations.
Little did she know, her daughter was relying on those same words on the other side of the world to get her through the day and tackle the next one as strong as she could.
Visibly drawing strength from each other while answering tough questions on stage, the pair embraced, making it known they were there for each other.
Two years ago, Ali Omar Ader, a.k.a. Adam, was lured to Canada under the guise of a book deal and was arrested upon arrival.
His trial began in early October. Lindhout could barely fathom his presence within the Plexiglass box he sat in.
The trail will conclude in December. Ader has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
“I kind of fell apart when I saw him,” Lindhout recalled.
“Knowing my daughter’s life could be on the line made it pretty easy to lie." - Lorinda Stewart
She admitted she is only beginning to feel the strength that came out of that experience thanks to the support of her friends, family and her loving boyfriend.
The topic of forgiveness was brought up when an audience member asked if Stewart has any resentment towards the Canadian government, criticized for not acting quickly enough on Lindhout’s behalf, and if she will ever forgive the man who abducted her daughter.
Stewart replied the only way to move on is to forgive.
She made the audience chuckle when she said the Canadian government and Adam are on her “forgiveness list.”
The 45-minute discussion was definitely emotional. The front rows were occupied by friends and family and the subsequent rows were filled with devoted supporters who have stuck with Lindhout’s story since it first started in 2008.
One woman in particular, Kathy White, is an old friend of Lindhout’s from their 20s when they lived in Canmore. She felt very connected to Lindhout on a spiritual level.
“She said to me once, ‘I just know that I am meant for something so much more.’”
White reunited with Lindhout after the live discussion. Both women were thrilled to see one another after so much time had passed.
Shelley Youngblut, CEO of the non-profit organization Wordfest, wasn’t surprised with the positive turnout despite the snowy weather.
“This is their hometown which is even more meaningful,” she said.
Stewart and Lindhout will be travelling to more destinations in Canada to promote One Day Closer. Tickets are on sale through Simon & Schuster.
For more information about Wordfest events, check out their website http://wordfest.com.
Full disclosure: Barry LaRocque, father of reporter Abby LaRocque, was a key member of Lindhout’s negotiating team in 2008.
- By Kendra Crighton and Abby LaRocque