Tag Archives: Missing and Murdered Women

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


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

Highway Of Tears Email Deletion Referred To RCMP By B.C. Privacy Watchdog

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. (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. (Individual photos from Highwayoftears.ca)

CBC News

Transportation ministry staffer facing potential perjury charges for lying under oath

Transportation ministry staffer George Gretes could be facing charges after a report by B.C. Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham that reveals he lied under oath when he denied that he intentionally deleted Highway of Tears emails and records.

Denham has referred the matter to the RCMP, and Gretes has resigned.

The report, titled Access Denied, also found that Michele Cadario, deputy chief of staff in the premier’s office, routinely contravened freedom of information laws by bulk deleting emails on a daily basis. Denham’s investigation cited Cadario as having no email records, despite working in the premier’s office for two years.

“That’s hard to get your head around,” said NDP Leader John Horgan in reaction to the report. “You’re the second most powerful person in the premier’s office and you don’t use email?”

The Ministry of Advanced Education was also found to be in contravention of freedom of information laws due to “a negligent search for the records by the chief of staff.”

Denham’s says her report points to practices that threaten the integrity of access to information in B.C.

“It is difficult to overstate the seriousness of the problems that my office discovered in the course of this investigation,” she wrote. “It is important that the government take immediate action to restore public confidence in the access to information process.”

Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services Minister Amrik Virk said Denham’s report “made a number of important findings” and announced that the government will hire former B.C. privacy commissioner David Loukidelis to advise it on how to address the recommendations.

But Horgan said Virk should also resign because of freedom of information concerns that came to light when Virk was minister of advanced education.

“It’s almost ludicrous to have him responsible for freedom of information now when he was circumventing it,” said Horgan. “He was the minister for advanced education and had to leave the portfolio around freedom of information issues.”


Denham’s investigation began when her office was approached by Tim Duncan, a former executive assistant to B.C.’s minister of transportation and highways.

Elizabeth Denham

B.C. Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has referred to the RCMP her findings about the intentional deleting of emails. (CBC)

He claimed to be bothered by an incident in relation to a request for email records about the so-called Highway of Tears, a notorious stretch of highway along which a number of women have been murdered or gone missing.

Duncan claimed Gretes was unhappy to see he had applicable email records on his computer and ordered him to “triple delete” them. When he hesitated, Duncan claimed Gretes grabbed his keyboard and mouse away from him and deleted them himself.

Duncan did not complain at the time and went on to work for the Liberal caucus. He was let go from that job in March, but after returning to Alberta, decided to speak out.

“He said he sympathized with the families of the murdered and missing victims on the highway because his own father had been murdered in a domestic incident in 2010,” Denham writes.

‘Triple deleting’

According to the report, “triple deleting” means first moving an email to the computer system’s “deleted” folder, expunging the email from the folder itself and then manually overriding a backup that allows the system to recover deleted items for up to 14 days.

Denham says Gretes first flatly denied the accusations, but in a second interview, after being presented with forensic evidence that showed items had been triple deleted, “Gretes admitted that he did not tell the truth in his original testimony and that he did triple delete emails.”

“I cannot overstate the gravity with which I view the false testimony given during this investigation by George Gretes,” Denham says in the report.

Systematic deletion

Denham also expressed disbelief at the results of an investigation into allegations that emails were being systematically deleted in the office of the premier.

The issue centres around the retention of so-called non-transitory records. According to the report, those include “decision records, instructions and advice, as well as documentation of a policy matter or how a case was managed.”

Transitory records are “convenience copies, unnecessary duplicates and working materials and drafts once the finished record has been produced.”

But according to the report, the deputy chief of staff in the premier’s office “has not personally retained a single email she has ever sent from her government email address.”

Cadario claimed “very few” of the emails she sends are non-transitory because she doesn’t create government policy or give policy advice. But Denham notes that Cadario’s job description included providing “strategic advice to the chief of staff, premier and executive council to advance government’s policy and legislative objectives.”

Denham recommended mandatory records-management training for all employees as well as the legislation of independent oversight of information management requirements. She also says the government needs to introduce sanctions when those requirements are not met.




Fighting For Answers About Missing And Murdered Canadian Women

JESSICA BROUSSEAU/The Mid-North Monitor Demonstrators stand united in the middle of Highways 6 and 17 during the five minute traffic slow down.

JESSICA BROUSSEAU/The Mid-North Monitor Demonstrators stand united in the middle of Highways 6 and 17 during the five minute traffic slow down.

By Jessica Brousseau / Mid-North Monitor, August 25, 2015

The numbers are growing as the fight for a national inquiry into missing and murdered women continues.

A demonstration was held on Aug. 18 with the familiar voices for the United Urban Warrior Society (UUWS) being joined by new supporters who refuse to take the federal government’s “no” for an answer.

Gathering at Giant Tiger, the group walked down the road before coming to a stand at the junction of highways 6 and 17.

Isadore Pangowish, leader of the UUWS Manitoulin-Sudbury chapter, has organized demonstrations and rallies such as the one held on a humid Tuesday morning.

“Our numbers have grown over the two years,” Pangowish said. “The more we protest maybe, just maybe, we will get our national inquiry.”

A national inquiry has been demanded of the federal government.

“The more and more that we come out, maybe Stephen Harper and Bernard Valcourt will open their eyes.”

While online comments are a mix of support for the cause there is the presence of frustration at the highway being shut down momentarily. But the negativity will not deter the UUWS in any future events.

Pangowish said they were closing the highway a few minutes at a time, but there may come a day when it might be shut down longer.

“This is a government highway. We do not own this highway. It is not a First Nation highway.”

Just like the highway, the inquiry into the growing number of missing and murdered women isn’t a First Nation issue.

“This is for everyone, it doesn’t matter their race.”

His statement was echoed throughout the demonstration as Deputy Grand Council Chief Glen Hare made the same remarks during one of the shutdown periods.

“This is for all women!” Hare exclaimed while pointing to the surrounding communities. “Not just Anishnabek (women), but the women in this community, and those communities out there.”

He called for community members to “stand with us.”

Hare said the demonstration is a political matter and they want leaders to “take hold” of the issue of missing and murdered women, starting with the inquiry.

“Politicians questioning what good would an inquiry be? For me, I think the role of the court system would be to strengthen up.”

Hare was referring to when a woman gets a restraining order against an individual, but the laws do not necessarily protect them.

“A restraining order, I truly believe, gives that individual more (power),” he said. “It’s a challenge. And it happens.”

He said it is sad for family members to grieve over the death of their loved one while the murderer is getting bail.

“That’s the hurting part.”

“It’s extremely important that the awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous women, and all women is brought to the forefront,” said Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing NDP incumbant candidate Carol Hughes, who was at the demonstration. “We need to have a comprehensive inquiry.”

Hughes said the national inquiry would help give closure to families. She also mentioned the Truth and Reconciliation report, which also supported the inquiry.

SheShegwaning First Nation Chief Joe Endanawas told the demonstrators that they are supported and be proud of who they are.

“It’s good that you’re here, support the cause,” he said.

Endanawas had a message for the women at the rally, saying they do not deserve to be talked down to or put down.

“We are human beings,” he said.

Still no answers

The hurt remains with family members, years after the death of a loved one.

It’s been two years since Michelle Atkinson’s daughter Cheyenne Fox was found dead in Toronto.

Fox came from the Loon Clan at the Wikwemikong Unceded First Nation on Manitoulin Island and was 20 years old when she fell from the 24th-floor balcony.

The Toronto police called the incident suicide. But her mother says it was murder.

How she was informed of her daughter’s death left Atkinson feeling like it was “just another dead Indian” to the people who told her the life-changing news.

“That’s how I feel,” she said between sobs. “I am angry because nothing has been done to this day.”

Atkinson and family friend Jackie Bowerman describes Fox as a very funny, caring mother.

“She was lively and energetic,” said Bowerman.

“She had her struggles, but she was coming home,” said her mother.

“They had people who really loved them,” she said between tears. “People who still love them.”

“I lost a cousin way back in the 1950s, she disappeared and we never heard from her,” said Endanawas. “We still don’t know where she is or how she died. She must have died…”

The missing and the


Kassandra Boulduc, 22, of Elliot Lake, was found off the shores of Lake Ontario in 2013.

Tina Fontaine, 15, of Sagkeeng First Nation was found murdered in Red River Manitoba in 2014.

Meagan Pilon from Sudbury disappeared at age 15 in 2013. She has yet to be found.

These women are just a handful of Canadian women who have gone missing or have been discovered murdered in the past couple of years.

A report from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police stated there have been more than 6,500 female homicides between 1980 and 2012.



Indigenous Activists Blockade Border For Inquiry Into Missing, Murdered Women

Blockade at Ontario and Manitoba border. Photo: Red Power Media

Vehicles were backed up for miles as activists blockaded the Ontario and Manitoba border. Photo: Red Power Media

By Red Power Media, Staff

Indigenous activists from Winnipeg had warned media that they planned to protest at the border with a blockade when the latest RCMP report was released.

Indigenous women continue to be most frequently killed by men they know, the RCMP said Friday as it released updated findings on missing and murdered indigenous women.

Another 32 Indigenous women have been murdered and 11 more have disappeared since the RCMP last reported on the issue.

Video: Group Blocks Motorists Who Refuse MMIW Flyer

In response activists set up a blockade and put a chokehold on the Trans-Canada Highway at the Ontario and Manitoba border. Then handed out 1,181 informational flyers ― the number of Indigenous women missing or murdered between 1980 and 2012 according to last year’s RCMP report.

They also informed the public of the violence taking place in their communities and the need for a national inquiry.

The Urban Warrior Alliance Blocks Semi Trucks at the Ontario and Manitoba border for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Red Power Media

An activist from the Urban Warrior Alliance blocks a semi truck at the Ontario and Manitoba border. Photo: Red Power Media.

“First Nations do not appreciate the way the RCMP is handling this. Not at all. We have no respect for it at all,” said one organizer.

“We want a national inquiry. We want an inquiry into what’s happening in our communities, what’s happening not just with our women, but all of our community.”

Many have long been calling for an inquiry.

However, the Harper government has refused saying it would rather focus on preventing these cases in the first place.


The protest was predominantly peaceful, minus some racist comments fueling the passion of the protesters.

Each time a driver didn’t accept a flyer, the group rallied in front of the vehicle, then shut down both lanes of the highway for 10 to 15 minutes not allowing anyone through until the flyer was taken.

Both the OPP and RCMP were at the border to manage the slow stream of vehicles.

The OPP reported that the protesters stayed on the highway until they had handed out all of their flyers.

Members from the Urban Warrior Alliance in Winnipeg who organized the protest ended it at about 4 pm.

Aboriginal Women Still Overrepresented Among Canada’s Missing And Murdered Women

Aboriginal women are most frequently killed by someone they know, be it their spouse or another family member, says the RCMP in a new report made public Friday. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Aboriginal women are most frequently killed by someone they know, be it their spouse or another family member, says the RCMP in a new report made public Friday. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

CBC News

32 aboriginal women have been slain and 11 more have disappeared since 2013, RCMP says

Aboriginal women continue to be overrepresented among Canada’s missing and murdered women, says the RCMP in a new report to update Canadians on the force’s efforts to address unresolved cases of missing and murdered native women.

Between May 2014 when last year’s report was published and April 2015, 11 more aboriginal women disappeared in regions over which the RCMP has jurisdiction.

Unlike in the previous report, this update did not take into account missing or murdered aboriginal woman from cities and municipalities with their own police forces, meaning the total number would be higher than the figure in the report.

It also found that within RCMP jurisdictions, 32 aboriginal women were killed in 2013 and 2014. The Mounties said this was “consistent with levels of the past decade.”

The RCMP said the new report confirms what was found in 2014, mainly that aboriginal women are most frequently killed by someone they know, be it their spouse or a member of their community.

“Our 2015 update confirms the unmistakable connection between homicide and family violence, and that aboriginal women continue to be over-represented among Canada’s missing and murdered women,” said RCMP Deputy Commissioner Janice Armstrong.

Other key findings include:

  • As of April 2015, 174 aboriginal women across all police jurisdictions remain missing, 111 of these under suspicious circumstances.
  • A reduction of 9.3 per cent in unsolved cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women reported in the 2014 overview, from 225 to 204 across all police jurisdictions.
  • In 2013 and 2014, 81 per cent of murders of aboriginal women have been solved in RCMP jurisdictions.
  • Within RCMP jurisdictions, offenders were known to their victims in 100 per cent of solved homicide cases of aboriginal women since 2013.
  • Offenders were known to their victims in 93 per cent of solved homicide cases of non-aboriginal women in RCMP jurisdictions in 2013 and 2014.

Urgent call to action

The Assembly of First Nations said today’s findings demand an “urgent call” for action.

“The numbers of missing and murdered indigenous women cannot remain a mere statistic,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde in a written statement.

“There is a significant and tragic overrepresentation of indigenous women among the missing and murdered in this country.”

Reacting to the RCMP update on CBC News Network’s Power & Politics, Liberal aboriginal affairs critic Carolyn Bennett called for an inquiry into the issue, saying that “crime prevention alone cannot stop the problem.”

NDP aboriginal affairs critic Niki Ashton also called for an inquiry, saying “this is a Canadian issue, not an indigenous issue.”

In a statement posted on her website, Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women Kellie Leitch wrote that “we don’t need another study on top of the same 40 studies that have already been done; we need police to catch those responsible and ensure they’re punished.”

Today’s release follows a report last year that found more than 1,000 cases of murdered and missing indigenous women between 1980 and 2012.