It’s been 43 days since Joan Jack and Charmaine Willier-Larsen first fired up their motorcycles to go across North America to raise awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
Now the duo is getting closer to finishing up their journey.
On Friday, Jack, from Manitoba, and Willier-Larsen from northern B.C., made a point of riding through Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside where a high proportion of Indigenous women and girls have disappeared or murdered.
As they arrive at Crab Park, close to a dozen family members and friends of missing or murdered girls were there to great them.
Following protocol, tobacco was offered.
“Every time we come across a new ocean from the east and the south and so we want to put our tobacco down here for the west and we want to invite families that have lost loved ones to step forward first and put their tobacco down,” said Willier-Larsen.
“Say a prayer that we find justice.”
Their epic journey has taken them 14,000 km so far.
The route across North America included California, Mexico, Kansas and the east coast and was shaped like a medicine wheel.
On their journey, women from both sides of the border joined them.
Along the route, they met families who are still struggling for answers.
Marlene Jack is a woman who has been looking for answers for her missing family since the 1980s.
She’s been following the rider’s journey on Facebook.
“We need more awareness like this doing more stuff bringing more awareness for murdered and missing women,” said Jack.
The pair of riders say it hasn’t been easy.
“I think of the families who have lost their loved ones and they don’t get to quit missing them so I though well I can’t quit no matter what I can’t quit,” said Jack.
As a tribute to those victims, red ribbons with names on them are tied onto the back of their bikes.
“Its really hard everyday is very is tough because you hear stories and you pack these stories you pack this energy of all these ladies that are missing and murdered and these victims we have a couple men too we cant forget about them and we pack their energy so to us its about the spiritualness of it so we cry we cry hard,” said Williers-Larsen.
For Marlene Jack, her missing family’s ribbons now joins the others.
The ride wraps up in Winnipeg on July 14.