The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Thursday, June 19, 2008

4 Justice and Healing

by Tricia Dower

At noon today, a local activist, Rose Henry, leaves from Mile Zero of the Transcanada Highway, a couple of blocks away from my home, to join a group of First Nations people and their supporters on the Walk 4 Justice. A walk to honour all the missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. Rose and others will leave Vancouver on June 21st—National Aboriginal Day—to trek to Ottawa. They expect to arrive in time for the opening of Parliament. There they will petition the government to hold an inquiry into the unsolved cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and to address the underlying reasons why Aboriginal women are five times more likely to die as a result of violence than any other group of women in Canada.

Reporter Joan Delaney summarizes the event and its goals much better than I can in this Epoch Times article.

The organizer, Gladys Radek, originally from the Gitxsan Wet su wit'en territory in northern British Columbia, says the idea for the walk “came to me as a vision in September 2007 while walking down the Highway of Tears [Route 16 between Prince Rupert and Prince George where 44 Aboriginal women have gone missing or been found murdered] for the second anniversary of my missing niece, Tamara Lynn Chipman, who disappeared without a trace…After her disappearance I started researching on line and contacting the many family members who have lost their loved ones on this treacherous highway…Our data base has increased to over 3000 women and children murdered or still missing across the country.”

From what I can gather from assorted communiqués, people will be joining the walk along the way. It doesn’t appear that everyone will travel every kilometre without benefit of the occasional car ride. Those who have lost loved ones in cases that are still unsolved are encouraged to join in, bringing forward the names of those loved ones, so the marchers can present as complete a list as possible to Prime Minister Harper. If you live along their route, you might have the opportunity to participate in some of the welcoming events. Here’s the path they plan to take with estimated dates of arrival:

Cheam, June 21
Kamloops, June 24*
Mount Robson, June 28
Edmonton, July 3
Calgary, July 8
Medicine Hat, July 12
Swift Current, July 16
Regina, July 22
Brandon, July 26
Winnipeg, July 30,
Kenora, August 3
Ignace, August 7
Thunder Bay, August 11
Marathon, August 15
Wawa, August 16
Sault Ste Marie, August 19
Sudbury, August 24
Toronto, August 29
Tyendinaga, September 4
Ottawa, September12

*Another group coming from Prince Rupert has already left, following this route, to join the others in Kamloops. According to the Walk 4 Justice Facebook page, the trek to Kitwanga was “awesome.”

Terrace, June 12
Gitrwangak (Kitwanga) and Hazelton, June 13
Moricetown and Smithers, June 14
Burns Lake, June 16
Fraser Lake, June17
Vanderhoof, June 18
Prince George, June 19
Quesnel, June 20
Williams Lake, June 21
100 Mile, June 22
Cache Creek, June 23
Kamloops, June 24

Walk 4 Justice hasn’t gotten much media coverage despite support from Amnesty International and the event’s currency in light of Harper’s recent apology for residential schools. But, as Rose Henry says in the Epoch Times article, the walk is part of her “healing journey,” and I suspect that’s true for many of the participants. May they be successful in their quest for more respect from the government and rejoice in knowing they respected themselves enough to try.

Image from Gladys Radek’s website.


Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

Thanks for sharing this with us, Tricia.

Thu Jun 19, 12:38:00 pm GMT-4  
Anonymous ruth taylor said...

Tricia, I wrote an article about this movement about five years ago. At that time, if I remember rightly, they had a database of about 600 cases (still shocking). It's amazing that the number has grown so much. Underlines the seriousness of the problem but also these women's success in reaching so many effected families.

Thank you for bringing me up to date.

Fri Jun 20, 10:49:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Thanks, Andrew. Thanks, Ruth. How coincidental that you wrote about this, Ruth. Where did the article appear? Is it available to read?

Fri Jun 20, 02:42:00 pm GMT-4  
Anonymous ruth taylor said...

I wrote it for a little mag my husband was trying to launch when we first came to Canada. The mag didn't fly, so I don't think many people saw it. There'd been a presentation in Toronto and he went to it and brought me the info and I wrote it up. It was the first I'd heard really about the Highway of Tears, and that there'd been so many disappearances there and in other places.

Fri Jun 20, 06:47:00 pm GMT-4  

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