“No one knows who the first Indigenous girl or woman to vanish along the highway between Prince Rupert and Prince George was or when it happened,” writes Jessica McDiarmid in her new book, drawing much-needed attention to the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women. According to the New York Times, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) reports that 18 women disappeared or were found murdered along Highway 16 in British Columbia between 1969 and 2006. The 450-mile road runs through several remote Native communities. Community activists and members maintain the number of missing women is closer to 50. In Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, McDiarmid describes the lives of several of these women. Unlike many other white journalists writing for mainstream outlets, McDiarmid does not dwell on the stories’ gory details. Nor does she resort to describing Native women’s lives through a reductionist lens. Rather, she gives victims and their families the sort of attention typically reserved for middle-class white victims. Although most of the women and girls were poor, and some were involved in risky behavior such as drinking or using drugs, McDiarmid’s writing helps depict them as complex humans, loved and missed by family. She fails, however, to truly account for the failure among mainstream journalists to recognize missing and murdered Indigenous women as an ongoing crisis.
Read More on the StoryMary Annette Pember: In ‘Highway of Tears,’ a Missed Chance to Hold White Journalists Accountable (Rewire.News November 12, 2019)
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