Highway of Tears A true story of racism, indifference and the pursuit of justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls

Jessica McDiarmid

Book - 2019

In the vein of the astonishing and eye-opening bestsellers I'll Be Gone in the Dark and The Line Becomes a River, this stunning work of investigative journalism follows a series of unsolved disappearances and murders of Indigenous women in rural British Columbia.

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Subjects
Genres
True crime stories
Published
New York : Atria Books 2019.
Edition
First Atria Books hardcover edition
Language
English
Physical Description
xiii, 331 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9781501160288
1501160281
Main Author
Jessica McDiarmid (author)
  • A bright light
  • A brick wall
  • Part of you is missing
  • Falling through the cracks
  • The not knowing
  • An inch shy of a mile
  • Blatant failures
  • It depends who's bleeding
  • Rising tides
  • Breaking a spirit
  • This we have to live with every day
  • Where were you twenty years ago?
  • Canada's dirtiest secret
  • Winding down
  • The last walk.
Review by Booklist Reviews

McDiarmid is a Canadian journalist who grew up near Highway 16, British Columbia's 450-mile section of the Yellowhead Highway known as the Highway of Tears. In her first book, she investigates in painstaking detail the stories of the Indigenous women and girls who have gone missing or been murdered in the vicinity over the last few decades. While the exact number of victims is disputed—the Royal Canadian police estimates the number to be about 1,200, while the Native Women's Association of Canada puts it closer to 4,000—the count is staggering. McDiarmid's touching, poignant account intricately details the backgrounds of many of the victims, and their families and loved ones. She deftly explains the continuous circle of blatant racism, depression, hopelessness, poverty, and addiction faced by the women, brought on by lack of opportunity and, frankly, by lack of care from the government. (A former prime minister is quoted as saying the issue isn't really high on our radar, to be honest.) McDiarmid also shares stories of those fighting for justice. A powerful must-read. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Investigative journalist McDiarmid shines a powerful light on an ongoing tragedy. For decades, Canadian law enforcement and the country's legal system has ineffectually dealt with thousands of cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Focusing on Highway 16 in British Columbia, the infamous Highway of Tears, this book by McDiarmid contains interviews with families of victims and Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigators in order to construct a patterned history of these missing and murdered women. Personal accounts of Ramona Wilson, Delphine Nikal, Roxanne Thiara, Lana Derrick, Alishia Germaine, Nicole Hoar, Alberta Williams, Aielah Saric-Auger, Tamera Chipman, and Mackie Basil, among others, are presented. Members of their families, such as Brenda and Matilda Wilson and Florence Naziel, became social activists and conducted memorial protest walks along Highway 16, eventually drawing international attention to the tragedy. VERDICT This ongoing national crisis of violence against women is not unique to Canada, and is being scrutinized in the United States, too. McDiarmid's exposé of racism and the lack of justice for indigenous women should be required reading for all.—Nathan Bender, Albany Cty. P.L., Laramie, WY Copyright 2019 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Canadian journalist McDiarmid debuts with a heart-wrenching account of the more than 1,200 indigenous women and girls who have gone missing or were found murdered along Highway 16 (aka the Highway of Tears), which runs across the middle of British Columbia into Alberta. The deaths and disappearances went unaddressed for decades, the author notes, and only garnered massive police and media attention when a white woman went missing while hitchhiking the highway in 2002. McDiarmid uses family photos and interviews to tell the stories of 16-year-old Ramona Wilson, whom McDiarmid first saw on a missing persons poster in 1994 when she was 10, and many others who went missing, putting faces on the victims and their families. Finally, a symposia and a walk down the 725 kilometers of highway in British Columbia by the victims' families in 2006 brought international attention to the crimes. National inquiries in 2016 and 2017 have brought more resources to the investigation, but indigenous women and girls continue to disappear today. This moving, well-sourced book is essential reading for anyone who cares about social injustice. Agent: Chris Bucci, McDermid Agency. (Nov.) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A journalist’s investigation into unsolved disappearances and murders of indigenous women along rural British Columbia’s Highway 16 exposes the racism, incompetence and indifference that have enabled more than 1,000 deaths. A first book. 40,000 first printing. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

'these murder cases expose systemic problems... By examining each murder within the context of Indigenous identity and regional hardships, McDiarmid addresses these very issues, finding reasons to look for the deeper roots of each act of violence.' 'The New York Times Book Review In the vein of the bestsellers I'll Be Gone in the Dark and The Line Becomes a River, a penetrating, deeply moving account of the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls of Highway 16, and a searing indictment of the society that failed them.For decades, Indigenous women and girls have gone missing or been found murdered along an isolated stretch of highway in northwestern British Columbia. The corridor is known as the Highway of Tears, and it has come to symbolize a national crisis.Journalist Jessica McDiarmid meticulously investigates the devastating effect these tragedies have had on the families of the victims and their communities, and how systemic racism and indifference have created a climate in which Indigenous women and girls are overpoliced yet underprotected. McDiarmid interviews those closest to the victims'mothers and fathers, siblings and friends'and provides an intimate firsthand account of their loss and unflagging fight for justice. Examining the historically fraught social and cultural tensions between settlers and Indigenous peoples in the region, McDiarmid links these cases to others across Canada'now estimated to number up to four thousand'contextualizing them within a broader examination of the undervaluing of Indigenous lives in the country. Highway of Tears is a piercing exploration of our ongoing failure to provide justice for the victims and a testament to their families' and communities' unwavering determination to find it.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

“These murder cases expose systemic problems... By examining each murder within the context of Indigenous identity and regional hardships, McDiarmid addresses these very issues, finding reasons to look for the deeper roots of each act of violence.” —The New York Times Book Review In the vein of the bestsellers I’ll Be Gone in the Dark and The Line Becomes a River, a penetrating, deeply moving account of the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls of Highway 16, and a searing indictment of the society that failed them.For decades, Indigenous women and girls have gone missing or been found murdered along an isolated stretch of highway in northwestern British Columbia. The corridor is known as the Highway of Tears, and it has come to symbolize a national crisis.Journalist Jessica McDiarmid meticulously investigates the devastating effect these tragedies have had on the families of the victims and their communities, and how systemic racism and indifference have created a climate in which Indigenous women and girls are overpoliced yet underprotected. McDiarmid interviews those closest to the victims—mothers and fathers, siblings and friends—and provides an intimate firsthand account of their loss and unflagging fight for justice. Examining the historically fraught social and cultural tensions between settlers and Indigenous peoples in the region, McDiarmid links these cases to others across Canada—now estimated to number up to four thousand—contextualizing them within a broader examination of the undervaluing of Indigenous lives in the country. Highway of Tears is a piercing exploration of our ongoing failure to provide justice for the victims and a testament to their families’ and communities’ unwavering determination to find it.