One of Canada's leading advocates speaking out for the nation's missing and murdered women is marching through Prince George this summer.
Gladys Radek is the organizer of the Walk 4 Justice initiative that has marched from B.C. to Ottawa several times in recent years. This year she has modified the route to draw attention specifically to her home territory and victimized family.
Her niece, Tamara Chipman, is one of the Highway of Tears cases that have not yet been resolved. Chipman disappeared Sept. 21, 2005. The route of this year's march will end on that anniversary date in Chipman's hometown of Prince Rupert.
This year's journey is named the Tears 4 Justice Walk in reference to the Highway of Tears focus.
"This walk is inspired by family members throughout the country who have expressed their interest in going to the Highway of Tears and meeting the families of the missing and murdered loved ones along the Highway of Tears," Radek said. "Their objective is to not only raise awareness, but, also to stand in unity with all family members in their demands for justice and a National Missing and Murdered Women and Children Symposium to discuss and devise a national action plan to eliminate all forms of violence towards women and children."
The walk has been underway most of the summer. It began in June in Nova Scotia and instead of halting in the nation's capital they carried on across the country. They departed from Mount Robson this morning on their way to Valemount, with a plan to reach Kamloops on Saturday. The trek will veer north again at Cache Creek on Sept. 3. The group will be at Williams Lake on Sept. 5, Quesnel on Sept. 7, and arrive in Prince George on Sept. 10, before heading westward to Prince Rupert.
"Our main objective is to raise awareness on the plight of the far too many missing and murdered women and children in Canada especially within our First Nation communities and families," said Radek. "Our ultimate goal is to seek justice, closure, equality and accountability for all those family members who came forward with their stories of lost loved ones and to address the overall issues of violence against women and children."
Many aboriginal and social advocacy groups and concerned individuals are welcoming the walkers in each community.
The group is also collecting donations for sustaining the national event, such as fuel cards, food, basic first aid materials, sunscreen, toiletries, overnight accommodation (billet rooms, places to pitch tents, etc.), prepaid phone cards, and other items to help on the road.