There are twenty-three First Nations bordering Highway 16, which are characterized by poverty and lack proper public transportation. Because of the lack of public transportation and poverty in the region, many people turn to hitchhiking as their form of transit.
Cause of Poverty
Most First Nation people who live on reserves are in poverty. One of the biggest reasons for this is the decision that Canada made. They decided to take all First Nation's from their land and move them onto land called reserves. They did this without enough planning, which means they had no infrastructure or an economy. And they ended up on small pieces of land without any jobs or income. Over generations, this lead to the use of drugs, alcohol, sexual abuse, and unplanned pregnancies. Which lead onto many girls trying to escape their life and run away. This is a major reason why girls were trying to hitchhike on Highway 16.
This photo grid includes pictures of missing or murdered women that were travelling amongst the Highway of Tears.
First Known Victim
Gloria Moody was a 27 year old mother of two. She was last seen leaving a bar in Williams Lake, British Columbia on October 25, 1969. She was found dead the next day.
Most Recent Victim
Madison Scott was 20 years old when she went missing in May 2011. She went missing after a party, her truck and tent was found but her body/remains were never located.
In 2005 RCMP finally decided to take action. They launched a program to look into all unsolved murders that happened on Highway 16 since the first in 1969. The E-PANA project has officially solved four murders; the murder of Colleen MacMillen, Gale Weys, Pamela Darlington, and 12 year old Monica Jack.
Solved by E-PANA
Colleen was 16 years old in August 1974 when she left her family home in Lac La Hache, BC, to hitchhike to visit a friend. Her remains were found one month later. Thirty-eight years later, in October 2012, DNA evidence led the RCMP to announce their belief that Bobby Jack Fowler was Colleen’s murderer. Fowler died in an Oregon prison in 2006.
Monica was the youngest victim at 12 years old. She disappeared in May 1978 while riding her bike near Merritt, BC. Her remains were found in 1996. As a result of forensic information, Garry Taylor Handlen, a 67-year-old man, was charged in 2014 for her death and that of an 11-year-old girl, Kathryn-Mary Herbert, unrelated to the Highway of Tears investigation. Handlen was denied bail in June 2015 and a publication ban was imposed.
Gale, a 19-year-old from Clearwater, BC, was last seen hitchhiking in October 1973, and her remains were found in April 1974. The RCMP suspected Bobby Jack Fowler in her death, but no conclusive evidence existed to convict him.
Pamela was a 19-year-old Kamloops, BC, resident who was found murdered in a local park in November 1973. The RCMP suspected Bobby Jack Fowler was responsible for her murder, but no conclusive evidence existed to convict him.
The Highway of Tears is still an ongoing and unsolved problem in our country. This subject discusses only a specific amount of information about an even larger problem of the missing and murdered indegenious women in Canada. (MMIW)