By Keith McNeill
Several local residents took part in the fourth annual Walk4Justice when it passed through the North Thompson Valley recently.
“It was very worthwhile and uplifting,” said Cheryl Thomas, one of the participants.
The Walk4Justice is a 4,700 km trek from Vancouver to Ottawa to raise awareness about murdered and missing Indigenous women.
One of the principal organizers, Gladys Radek, has a niece who is among those missing along the “Highway of Tears” from Prince George to Prince Rupert.
This year’s walk left Vancouver on June 21. Upon arriving in Kamloops the organizers split into two teams. One team, led by Radek, came up the North Thompson Valley along the Yellowhead Highway.
They walked from Kamloops to Valemount from June 26 to July 2.
The second team took the Trans Canada Highway 1 across the Rockies. The two teams plan to meet up again on the Prairies.
Rather than have everyone try to walk up to 100 km or more per day, the organizers instead break it down into segments of about 10 km, Thomas explained.
Walkers are dropped off from a vehicle at the start of each segment. They mark where they start from and then walk to where the next walker(s) started from.
Local walkers ranged in age from 96 years to about six months.
Seeking to avoid any possible rules limiting parades, they generally do not walk through municipalities.
The walk is scheduled to end with a rally on Parliament Hill on Sept. 19.
Walk4Justice’s mission statement is: “Aboriginal Women, our life-givers and their children, our future, are still suffering from generations of Canadian policy. A policy that is contrary to article 2 of the United Nations International Convention on Genocide. We are walking for justice, closure, equality and accountability…There is a dire need to address the discriminatory, racist practices that have taken place involving the police, politicians, the judicial system and societal acceptance of the horrendous crimes against humanity.”
The website www.highwayoftears.ca lists 11 young women, most of them Aboriginal, who have been murdered or gone missing between Prince George and Prince Rupert. It also lists another eight who police believe have a similar profile.