Kwe Unglis Haida Dancers John and Rachel Hewer and Treena Decker perform during the Take Back the Highway event at the Nisga’a Hall on Oct. 4.

STORY AND VIDEO: Take back the highway

Hundreds of people attended a community feast and vigil in Prince Rupert last week, held to commemorate MMIW along Highway 16




Hundreds of people attended a community feast and vigil in Prince Rupert last week, held to commemorate missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls along Highway 16 and across Canada.

The North Coast Transition Society (NCTS) has hosted Take Back the Highway events annually for nearly a decade to raise awareness on deaths and disappearances of women and girls along the 724 kilometre stretch of Highway 16 between Prince Rupert and Prince George. Nearly all the victims were Aboriginal.

This year’s massive event was organized in collaboration with the Friendship House Association of Prince Rupert and Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society.

More than 300 community members packed into the Nisga’a Hall for the community feast and vigil, with Prince Rupert’s gathering being one of nearly 100 similar events held across Canada on Oct. 4 as part of the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s Sisters in Spirit vigil movement.

Grainne Barthe, NCTS program manager, said the event offers a place of healing for the community.

“Even though it’s a tremendously sad issue, I think everyone left feeling good. It was a very uplifting evening,” she said.

Before a moment of silence was shared, the names of 18 women lost along the Highway of Tears were read aloud, along with something about their lives.

Vicki Hill, whose mother Mary Jane Jill was found along the highway outside of Prince Rupert in March 1978, spoke about her pursuit of finding justice at the event and urged the crowd to not blame victims.

“They all had a heartbeat, like each and every one of us,” said Hill, who was six months old when her mother was killed.

“I’ve pretty much accepted what happened to her. But I’m not going to give up hope,” Hill said.

The event also included powerful performances by First Nation dance groups Kwe Unglis Haida Dancers, the North Coast Ceremonial group and Gisigwilgwelk (Big Northern Lights) Dancers.

Furthermore, NCTS took the opportunity to reveal its newest Take Back the Highway T-shirt at the event. The society held a contest in September for a new logo, receiving 18 submissions from around B.C.

“It was such a difficult decision because every single design was so heartfelt. You can tell the amount of thought that went into each of them,” Barthe said.

NCTS selected William Cooper from Kitkatla as the winner. Each aspect of Cooper’s Aboriginal design represented the lives of those taken along the Highway of Tears and the emotions provoked by the losses.

To purchase the new Take Back the Highway T-shirt, call (250) 627-8959.

 

Just Posted

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church hosting second flea market for Prince Rupert community

Prince Rupert community members are welcome to come browse or donate stuff for sale

Rushbrook Trail receives its annual spring spruce up

Kaien Island Trail Soceity and volunteers are keeping Prince Rupert’s trails clean

Prince Rupert school board meeting briefs: PRMS construction top priority

School District 52 seeks to replace Prince Rupert Middle School and Conrad Elementary

Baby birds hatched at Pembina worksite, construction halted temporarily

Bird nest sighting by the wharf on Watson Island, Prince Rupert

UPDATE: No injuries in Third Avenue Fire, investigation underway

Prince Rupert’s Pacific Inn sustained water damage in the basement and smoke on ground floor

WEB POLL: Would you like to see another mural go up where Zorba’s Taverna’s old one used to be?

The iconic quirky mural from Prince Rupert’s Greek restaurant was painted over this week

Give Hope Wings fundraiser launches Saturday from Pitt Meadows

Flying marathon will benefit low income Canadians needing flights for medical treatment

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

B.C. Interior First Nation family ‘heartbroken’ over loss of young mom

RCMP have released no new information since the June 8, 2019 homicide

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

Most Read