I find the tone of Mr. Fletcher’s Oct. 28 column “Myths surround the Highway of Tears” to be insensitive and disrespectful of the Aboriginal families who have lost daughters, mothers, sisters and wives to the “mythic” Highway of Tears.
His clever examples illustrate not all the women have gone missing from Highway 16, and in this he misses the point. What does it matter exactly where they went missing? The numbers of unsolved cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women in B.C. alone are staggering. According to a 2012 Human Rights Watch report, B.C. had the highest number of unsolved cases in Canada – 160 compared with 582 in the rest of the country. Amnesty International Canada has recently completed a second investigation in northeastern B.C., and their findings will be made public in 2016.
Mr. Fletcher adds insult to injury by saying, “What we have seen for decades is a dramatic media narrative…” focused on missing women, when in his mind it is merely a problem of “realistic transportation options.” I recently visited the K’moks First Nation Band Hall where they were hosting the “Walking with Our Sisters” commemorative art installation (www.walkingwithoursisters.ca).
The exhibition comprises 1,763 pairs of decorated women’s moccasin vamps (or tops), and 108 pairs of children’s vamps. Each pair of unfinished moccasins represents the unfinished lives of the Aboriginal girls and women reported missing or murdered in Canada in the last 30 years, and those created for the children represent 108 of those who never returned from residential school. The floor installation is arranged as a winding path on fabric surrounded by cedar boughs, and viewers are asked to remove their shoes and follow the path.
To walk this path is to only begin to get a sense of the loss their families have endured. The Highway of Tears is a metaphor, Mr. Fletcher, not just a transportation issue.