(Tears 4 Justice walkers leave Moricetown, B.C. and head south towards Smithers where the MMIWG Inquiry starts up Tuesday. Photo: John Murray/APTN)
APTN National News
Surrounded by autumn colours and mountain-side mist, people gathered for the Tears 4 Justice Walk to honour and recognize those who are missed and gone, and make the journey from Moricetown, B.C. south to Smithers where the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is holding three days of hearings.
Gladys Radek, whose niece Tamara Chipman, 22, vanished in 2005 along Hwy 16, continues a walk that she has done for the last seven years.
“We all walked for this national public inquiry,” she told the gathered crowd. “We would not stop walking until we got our national public inquiry.”
Following a ceremony and reflection, walkers left Moricetown, B.C, accompanied by commissioner Michele Audette.
The walkers split the seven-hour walking journey into sections – different groups covered the walk along Hwy 16, also known as the Highway of Tears because of the number of Indigenous women who have gone missing or have been murdered, to Smithers.
“There are many families that will be in Smithers this week and we need to pray for them, we need to send them love, send them strength, and give them all the energy they need because they are making history this week,” said Audette.
“They are writing a new chapter for Canada.”
(Rhonda Lee McIsaac came from Haida Gwaii to join the walk. Photo: John Murray/APTN)
People from across Canada travelled to join the walk.
Rhonda Lee McIsaac, an Anishinaabe woman living in Haida Gwaii, felt her presence was necessary.
She also felt strongly about wearing her jingle dress.
“My teachings simply say that when the dress is needed, when this medicine is needed, this is why I am walking,” she said. “There are other people who cannot walk so I am walking for them.
“It is an honour to be responsible to carry those teachings and to actually live those teachings, and infuse this dress with the power of other people.”
Chief Commissioner Marion Buller joined the walkers for the last hour of the walk into Smithers.
Radek warned those gathered that the inquiry won’t satisfy everyone.
“It might not be the answer for everybody, but it is the answer for somebody,” she said. “All of our families need answers.”
The hearings in Smithers starts Tuesday.
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