A van plastered with posters and photos was drawing attention to a very important cause on its route through Fort St. James last week.
A group of volunteers taking part in the Tears for Justice walk, which began June 21 in Nova Scotia, were helping to bring attention to the missing and murdered women from across Canada.
The walkers were hosted by Nak’azdli First Nation, which donated food, gas, motel rooms and a $700 cheque towards the project. They also held a raffle and were continuing to take in donations last week.
“This band helped us immensely,” said Gladys Radek, founder of the Tears for Justice walk.
The group is on their way to Prince Rupert, in an effort to create continued interest in the many missing women files across the country and especially along the Highway of Tears.
Radek, who is from Moricetown, is no stranger to the Highway of Tears story and families missing loved ones.
Radek’s own niece went missing eight years ago.
Tamara Lynn Chipman was 22 years old when she disappeared, leaving behind a young son, who is now 11 years old.
“What are they doing I ask?” said Radek.
She was also critical of the Immaculate Basil search and what she saw as the lack of effort on the part of the RCMP.
“Something could have been done,” said Radek.
Radek feels not enough is being done by authorities to work on missing first nations women’s cases.
“They have to be willing to work with us,” she said. “We’re not just Indians, we’re human beings.”
Radek wanted to draw attention to cases like Basil’s, and driving around in a van literally covered in posters and photos of missing and murdered women, she is doing just that.
She also has some company on her journey.
With her are a group of ever-changing supporters from across the country.
William Dick joined the walk in Ottawa on July 6.
“I thought it would be good for unity,” said Dick, who joined as the second man in the group at the time.
Dick said he thinks a lot about the kids who have been left behind by the missing women, perhaps partly because his own mother was killed by a vehicle when he was nine years old.
His aunt and grandmother also both passed away soon after, and so he was adopted.
Kelly Hoole from Winnepeg spent 27 years as a sex trade worker in Winnepeg, and is now walking with the group. Hoole now works as an outreach worker, helping people get off the streets, and was inspired to join the walk after having lost a friend in the sex trade.