March held for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls

 

BY BILL PHILLIPS

bill@pgdailynews.ca

More than 100 people marched along Highway 16 Sunday afternoon, in memory of all missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Many of the marchers had a red stripe painted on their face as a sign of solidarity. The march came a day after police positively identified human remains found near Smithers as those of Jessica Patrick.

March organizer Cheyenne MacDonald. Bill Phillips photo
March organizer Cheyenne MacDonald. Bill Phillips photo

Patrick, 18, who also uses the last name Balczer, was last seen leaving the Mountain Vew Motel in Smithers in the early hours of August 31. She was reported missing September 3. Her body was located September just outside Smithers by people who wanted to help find her. The location was on Hudson Bay Mountain Road, at a large pull out, about 15 metres down a steep bank. Those people quickly called the RCMP and protected the scene.

The RCMP with assistance of the BC Coroner Service are working together to determine the cause of Jessica’s death. It is a criminal investigation.

“Today we’re here to honour all the missing and murdered Indigenous women,” said Cheyenne MacDonald, who organized the march. “They may be gone but they will never be forgotten.”

Elder Grizzly Mama said moniker Highway of Tears for Highway 16 should be changed to the Highway of Prayers.

“We need to change the negative to a positive,” she said, adding one of her daughters was murdered on the Highway of Tears as well as cousins.

“There was no justice for our people,” she said.

MacDonald said the march was about justice. The march went from the School District 57 offices down Highway 16 to the intersection with Highway 97.

“Today, hopefully, with our message our families will get justice,” said MacDonald.