Participants in the one-year Anniversary Memorial March for Jessica Patrick walk down 17th Avenue in Smithers, B.C. towards the Town’s municipal cemetery where they paid their respects to the grave of Patrick, who also used the last name Balczer, on Sept. 15, 2019. Patrick was last seen leaving Mountain View Motel in Smithers in the early morning hours of Aug. 31, 2018. Her body was not found until Sept. 15, 2018 off of Hudson Bay Mountain Road. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

‘This is where the movement is going to start’: Jessica Patrick remembered at memorial march

The march commemorates the one-year anniversary of the 18-year-old’s unsolved death

There were many speakers and many words said at the first ever Jessica Patrick Memorial March held Sunday.

But despite all the different communities that came together and the diverse number of individuals who spoke about the life of Patrick, who also used the last name Balczer, there was one common denominator:

This has to stop.

The march, which commemorates the one-year anniversary of the 18-year-old’s unsolved death, began with friends, family and supporters of Patrick gathering at Bovill Square shortly after noon.

After a number of drum performances, the group marched down Main Street up to the Town’s municipal cemetary, where they gathered around Patrick’s grave.

It was a somber occasion, with many placing flowers on the grave or taking the time to say a few words.

The memorial then continued at the Dze L K’ant Cultural Centre, where friends and family of Patrick spoke about the many individuals the member of the Lake Babine Nation touched throughout her life.

Speaking to a large crowd, Patrick’s cousin Jacquie Bowes said the event’s anniversary was a significant one within their culture.

“This is a releasement for Jessica.

“I was told by our matriarchs and our hereditary chiefs that their spirit is with us for the first year and after that year it is time for us to let go and let her go off to the spirit world.”

Bowes said the past year has been extremely hard for the family, characterizing it as like being on permanent “auto-pilot mode”.

She said that the days following her disappearance were among the hardest.

“We had mixed emotions, we didn’t want to find her because we didn’t know what we were going to find — but then we also wanted to find her for closure.“

Even when they did get that closure, Bowes said it came at a terrible price.

“We were traumatized in such a bad way.”

Bowes also acknowledged the broader, systemic issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), noting that Patrick’s case is like so many others along the stretch of Hwy 16 colloquially referred to as the “Highway of Tears.”

Speaking directly towards any families who are going through similar situations, she said it’s important to keep your heart open to healing.

“You need to let your heart go soft, let it stay soft, so your ancestors can speak to you.”

Bowes also discussed the importance of Indigenous individuals — regardless of what community they come from — looking out for each other, noting a general cynicism towards relying on law enforcement, especially considering the disproportionate amount of missing persons cases involving Indigenous individuals.

“We can’t rely on the RCMP, we need to rely on each other; we need our young men to start stepping up and protecting their elders and their women and their children.

“This is where the movement is going to start.”

Patrick was last seen leaving Mountain View Motel in Smithers in the early morning hours of Aug. 31, 2018.

Her body was not found until Sept. 15, 2018 off of Hudson Bay Mountain Road.

The case remains unsolved.

Both the RCMP and friends and family of Patrick have encouraged anyone that has information surrounding the events of the night, or the days leading up to it, to contact the Smithers RCMP at 250-847-3233.

 

Participants in the one-year Anniversary Memorial March for Jessica Patrick walk down Main Street in Smithers, B.C. towards the Town’s municipal cemetery where they paid their respects to the grave of Patrick, who also used the last name Balczer, on Sept. 15, 2019. Patrick was last seen leaving Mountain View Motel in Smithers in the early morning hours of Aug. 31, 2018. Her body was not found until Sept. 15, 2018 off of Hudson Bay Mountain Road. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

Participants in the one-year Anniversary Memorial March for Jessica Patrick pay their respects to the grave of Patrick, who also used the last name Balczer, at the Town’s municipal cemetery on Sept. 15, 2019. Patrick was last seen leaving Mountain View Motel in Smithers in the early morning hours of Aug. 31, 2018. Her body was not found until Sept. 15, 2018 off of Hudson Bay Mountain Road. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

Participants in the one-year Anniversary Memorial March for Jessica Patrick pay their respects to the grave of Patrick, who also used the last name Balczer, at the Town’s municipal cemetery on Sept. 15, 2019. Patrick was last seen leaving Mountain View Motel in Smithers in the early morning hours of Aug. 31, 2018. Her body was not found until Sept. 15, 2018 off of Hudson Bay Mountain Road. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

Participants in the one-year Anniversary Memorial March for Jessica Patrick pay their respects to the grave of Patrick, who also used the last name Balczer, at the Town’s municipal cemetery on Sept. 15, 2019. Patrick was last seen leaving Mountain View Motel in Smithers in the early morning hours of Aug. 31, 2018. Her body was not found until Sept. 15, 2018 off of Hudson Bay Mountain Road. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

Just Posted

CityWest and IBEW Local 213 consolidate unions

Prince Rupert’s telecommunications company moves forward under one banner

Prince Rupert Indigenous Housing Society inaugural market hopes to add to the community

The market took place at the Git Lach M’oon hall over the weekend

Council Briefs: Cunningham puts “resident rate” for transportation on table

Councillor Adey concerned over RCMP’s lack of communication with public

Skeena-Bulkley Valley once again goes NDP

Smithers mayor Taylor Bachrach set to follow in Nathan Cullen’s footsteps

Security guard bitten, punched by patient at Terrace hospital

Violent incident one of many in Northwest B.C., nurses union says

Play-by-play: Bachrach new MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, all 219 polls reported

Bachrach beats Conservative candidate Claire Rattée by more than 3,000

‘Havoc and chaos:’ Alberta separatist group gains support as Liberals re-elected

The idea is getting interest from people in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and parts of British Columbia

Feds finally decriminalizing drugs possible – but it’s up to Jagmeet Singh, expert says

National pharmacare was one of Singh’s most highly-touted platform policies

In the news: Wexit, Brexit and Trump sparks outrage

There’s been a surge of support for an Alberta separatist group

Horvat’s hat trick lifts Canucks to 5-2 win over Red Wings

First career three-goal game for Vancouver captain

Saanich Gulf-Islands’s Elizabeth May coy about leadership plans

The federal Green party leader talks possibility of running as MP without being leader

Estheticians can’t be forced to wax male genitals, B.C. tribunal rules

Langley transgender woman Jessica Yaniv was ordered to pay three salon owners $2,000 each

Two youth arrested in UBC carjacking at gunpoint, after being spotted in stolen Kia

‘A great deal of credit is due the alert person who called us,’ said North Vancouver Sgt. Peter DeVries

Most Read