The second annual Women’s Memorial March took place at 11 a.m. in Terrace on Feb. 14 to remember the missing and murdered.
Approximately 40 people gathered in front of the local RCMP detachment with hand-made medicine bags hung around their necks and signs with photos of the victims as they began their walk.
“There’s a lot of pain that’s involved, there are a lot of families here that have been in pain for 20 plus years and right now is the time for us to gather with other family members to let them know that they’re not alone,” says Gladys Radek, advocate for missing and murdered Indigenous women. Her niece, Tamara Chipman, went missing along Hwy 16 while hitchhiking from Prince Rupert to Terrace in 2005.
The march on Feb. 14 is recognized across the country to raise awareness and provide prayers for the families whose loved ones are still missing or who have lost their lives to violence. Highway 16, which is commonly referred to as the Highway of Tears, is where advocates believe up to 100 women over 50 years have gone missing or were found murdered.
Radek says that she was impressed with the number of people that came out for the march in Terrace to help raise awareness.
“A lot of people have their blinders on and don’t realize what’s happening around them but the missing and murdered people are definitely going on, so they should be aware,” says Radek.
The RCMP estimates that around 1,200 Indigenous women have been murdered or gone missing in Canada between 1980 to 2012, but Canada’s Minister of Status of Women suggested the number could be as high as 4,000.
After laying down roses around the totem pole, the march then proceeded down Lakelse Ave. and ended at the new Kermode Friendship Centre building on Park Ave. for a traditional healing circle with support from grief and loss counsellors.
“It’s kind of a start for our healing journey,” Radek says. “There are far too many missing and murdered women.”