Dozens gather along Highway 16 as teen’s remains brought home

People gather along Highway 16, also known as the Highway of Tears, for the return of 18-year-old Jessica Patrick’s remains. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

Family says remains discovered over the weekend are those of Jessica Patrick, 18

Family and friends of an 18-year-old whose body was found near Smithers, B.C., gathered along Highway 16 as the teen’s body is brought home from Prince George.

Jessica Patrick’s remains were discovered over the weekend, nearly two weeks after she was reported missing.

Investigators haven’t confirmed the remains are Patrick’s — but family say they are certain.​

The call to gather along Highway 16 as Patrick’s body is driven home went out on Facebook Wednesday night. Many comments suggested people arrive dressed in red in honour of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Patrick, who also used the last name Balczer, was a young mother and a member of the Lake Babine First Nation.​

Jacquie Bowes, Patrick’s cousin, said those coming together along the road — also known as the Highway of Tears — are showing their support for the teen’s family.

“This is the most beautiful gesture from all over — that’s supporting the family right now,” Bowes said.

Jessica Patrick, 18, went missing at the end of August. She leaves behind a one-year-old daughter. (Facebook)

Patrick was last seen on Aug. 31 and reported missing on Sept. 3. No further information on her death has been released.

SOURCE: CBC News

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Bus Service Coming To Notorious ‘Highway Of Tears’ By End Of The Year

Highway 16 near Prince George, B.C., is shown on Monday, Oct. 8, 2012. A bus service that links communities along a notorious stretch of highway in northern British Columbia will carry passengers by the end of the year, the province's transportation minister said Wednesday

Highway 16 near Prince George, B.C., is shown on Monday, Oct. 8, 2012.

June 17, 2016

Highway of Tears bus service to run from Prince George to Prince Rupert

In Canada since the 1970s, Eighteen women and girls have been murdered or gone missing, along Highway 16 and adjacent routes in northern British Columbia.

A bus service that links communities along the notorious stretch of road also known as the Highway of Tears will carry passengers by the end of the year, the province’s transportation minister said Wednesday.

First Nations, social service agencies and women’s groups have been calling for a shuttle bus service in the area for several years to provide regular transportation for people who live in communities along the 750-kilometre route.

The highway cuts through the centre of the province and follows rivers and mountains, passing through numerous small communities, including Houston, Smithers and Burns Lake. The route also provides the main transportation link to and from remote First Nations villages located off the main highway.

Most cases of murdered and missing women remain unsolved, though investigators don’t believe a single killer is responsible.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone says agreements between 16 communities along the highway will allow B.C. Transit to operate a scheduled bus service between Prince George and Prince Rupert.

“Absolutely, this initiative is all about safety,” he said.

He said the communities, the province and B.C. Transit must still develop service schedules and provide extra buses for the route.

Stone said plans for the Highway 16 area also include offering bus driver training programs for First Nations to provide transportation service from their remote villages to other major communities along the highway.

Chief Corrina Leween of the Cheslatta Carrier Nation said the bus service helps many living in towns on or near the highway, but it offers little comfort to those off the main road.

“The work they are doing for the core group on the corridor is good, but for us it really doesn’t work because we’re off the beaten trail,” she said.

Leween said the main Cheslatta community of about 300 people is located about 25 kilometres south of Burns Lake and getting to the highway requires a ferry trip and travel on a dirt road.

Five Cheslatta people, including a family of four and a male elder, have disappeared from the area over the years, she said.

New Democrat Maurine Karagianis, the Opposition’s critic for women, said area residents and local politicians have called for improved transportation services for years, but the government has been stalling while many people hitchhike for rides with strangers.

“I say get on with it,” she said.

First Nations advocate Mary Teegee said a decade ago, dozens of people walked from Prince Rupert to Prince George to call for better transportation service along the highway.

“It has been 10 years since of the Highway of Tears recommendations report came out and we are finally making progress,” she said in a statement. “I view transportation as a human rights issue in the north and we are working toward making sure everyone has access.”

These images are of 18 women and girls whose deaths and disappearances are part of the RCMP's investigation of the Highway of Tears in British Columbia. The women were either found or last seen near Highway 16 or near Highways 97 and 5. From left to right: (Top row) Aielah Saric Auger, Tamara Chipman, Nicole Hoar, Lana Derrick, Alishia Germaine, Roxanne Thiara; (Middle) Ramona Wilson, Delphine Nikal, Alberta Williams, Shelley-Anne Bascu, Maureen Mosie, Monica Jack; (Bottom row) Monica Ignas, Colleen MacMillen, Pamela Darlington, Gale Weys, Micheline Pare, Gloria Moody. (Individual photos from Highwayoftears.ca)

These images are of 18 women and girls whose deaths and disappearances are part of the RCMP’s investigation of the Highway of Tears in British Columbia. The women were either found or last seen near Highway 16 or near Highways 97 and 5. From left to right: (Top row) Aielah Saric Auger, Tamara Chipman, Nicole Hoar, Lana Derrick, Alishia Germaine, Roxanne Thiara; (Middle) Ramona Wilson, Delphine Nikal, Alberta Williams, Shelley-Anne Bascu, Maureen Mosie, Monica Jack; (Bottom row) Monica Ignas, Colleen MacMillen, Pamela Darlington, Gale Weys, Micheline Pare, Gloria Moody. (Individual photos from Highwayoftears.ca)

Source: The Canadian Press

B.C. Northern Leaders Complain They Weren’t Invited To Highway Of Tears Gathering

The B.C. Transportation ministry has organized a meeting next week to discuss transit issues in northern B.C. in connection with missing and murdered women. But several high-profile community leaders say they haven't been invited. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

The B.C. Transportation ministry has organized a meeting next week to discuss transit issues in northern B.C. in connection with missing and murdered women. But several high-profile community leaders say they haven’t been invited. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

CBC News

‘I do have my worries about this meeting,’ chief says

Several high profile community leaders who have decried the lack of transit in northern B.C. say they haven’t been invited to a long-awaited meeting next week in Smithers, where officials are slated to discuss the link between poor public transit and missing and murdered women.

For nearly a decade, families of missing and murdered women have called for cheap, safe public transit along the Highway of Tears.

B.C.’s ministry of transportation has organized a symposium in Smithers to talk about transit in the north. The ministry has invited several government managers in the region and staff from area First Nations groups. However, many mayors, MLAs, elected chiefs, and families of the missing women have not been invited.

And those on the guest list have been asked to make their own travel arrangements to the Smithers meeting.

“I do have my worries about this meeting,” said Carrier Sekanni Tribal Chief Terry Teegee, whose cousin, Ramona Wilson, was murdered on Highway 16. He was not invited.

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice (NDP) wasn’t invited either, but she wants to be there.

Leadership needed on northern transit, MLA says

Rice said Transportation Minister Todd Stone appears to have changed his mind on whether better transit is needed in the north.

“I’m looking for the MoT (Ministry of Transportation) to provide some leadership,” Rice said. “He (Stone) said for the last few years that basically shuttle services or public transit was not practical and he said communities didn’t want it. It’s interesting he now has a change of heart. It’s gone from not feasible to something he’s exploring.

“But I’m not holding my breath,” Rice added.

Mary Teegee of Carrier-Sekanni Family Services said she’s trying to be optimistic and view the meeting as a positive step from the province.

“I’m hoping there’s going to be commitment from government to do something rather than have another meeting.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/highway-of-tears-transportation-1.3326246

Documents On Highway Of Tears Open Old Wounds As Missing-Women Inquiry Looms

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The Yellowhead, Highway 16, near Prince George, B.C., is pictured on October 8, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The Canadian Press

VICTORIA – The small British Columbia Cheslatta Carrier Nation has a decades-long anguished relationship with Highway 16, or the so-called Highway of Tears.

Five people from the community of less than 350 near Burns Lake in central B.C. have disappeared along the route, including an entire family of four, says Chief Corrina Leween.

At least 18 women went missing or were murdered along Highway 16 and the adjacent Highways 97 and 5 since the 1970s. Most cases remain unsolved, though investigators don’t believe a single killer is responsible.

The sorrow deepened recently with a damning report over deleted Transportation Ministry emails about the highway and its missing.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone has insisted that locals don’t want a bus service, but recently released documents highlight the concerns of local officials and contradict the minister.

The controversy could be swept up in a call by the federal Liberal government for an inquiry into Canada’s murdered and missing women. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised the inquiry during the election campaign.

“I would expect that because a number of women have gone missing, and or have been known to have been murdered along Highway 16, that Highway 16 will figure in the national inquiry,” said Stone. “Our government has been on the record for quite some time in supporting a national inquiry.”

B.C.’s Attorney General Suzanne Anton said she also expects an inquiry would focus on the highway.

“I’m not trying to second-guess the federal inquiry, but there probably will be an aspect about the north all across the country,” she said.

An RCMP report last year stated nearly 1,200 aboriginal women were murdered or went missing between 1980 and 2012.

Highway 16 stretches more than 700 kilometres between Prince George and Prince Rupert. It follows rivers and mountains and connects remote communities. Its route is dark, lonely and blood stained.

“Within (our) community, we have had an entire family that went missing, the Jack family,” said Leween. “One of our elders is missing.”

Casimel Jack, 70, was last seen a decade ago, walking along a road that connects to Highway 16 south of Burns Lake. He was hunting and carrying a rifle when he disappeared Sept. 18, 2005.

Ronald Jack, his wife, Doreen, and their two sons, Russell, 9, and Ryan, 4, vanished Aug. 1, 1989. The last anybody heard from the family was when Ronald called a family member from a Prince George pub to say he and his wife found jobs.

“They just simply disappeared. Mom, dad and the two boys,” Leween said.

She said successive B.C. governments have refused to move on First Nations’ requests to provide a regional transportation network. Leween described government consultations attempts as sophisticated stalling tactics.

“I, as a leader, don’t feel the government is doing enough to addresses the issue,” she said.

Leween rejected Stone’s claim that leaders across the north agree a large-scale transit service won’t work.

“It’s absolutely untrue,” she said. “The bus is desperately needed in our area. I go to Prince George quite often to meetings and I see the young women hitchhiking on that highway. It’s needed.”

Stone said the government is looking to develop shorter transportation connections between communities, but a region-wide transportation service is not workable.

“It’s difficult for many folks to comprehend, myself included, how a scheduled shuttle bus service across an 800 kilometre stretch of highway that’s very sparsely populated would meet the needs of people who live along the highway.”

Stone said his ministry is holding a transportation symposium in Smithers Nov. 24 to discuss practical, affordable and sustainable solutions for communities along Highway 16.

Opposition New Democrat Jennifer Rice, whose North Coast riding includes a section of Highway 16, said she has not been invited to the symposium but plans to attend.

“I’ve been here (in Victoria) two years, and I’ve been asking this question numerous times around improving the transportation and safety along Highway 16, and I’ve been shrugged off and told basically to move on and get a new idea,” she said.

Rice said two years ago when she accidentally locked herself out of her car on a stretch of the highway she felt the chill of being alone in the middle of nowhere.

“I was in a pull out, and I had no cell service and I was the only one there,” she said.

“I had just come back from Victoria and I had been asking questions about the Highway of Tears. Then this happened to me. I felt extremely vulnerable.”

Source: https://shar.es/15dh6G