Highway of Tears

Highway of Tears

A True Story of Racism, Indifference and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Book - 2019
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Along northern Canada’s Highway 16, a yellow billboard reads GIRLS, DON’T HITCHHIKE. KILLER ON THE LOOSE. The highway is a 450-mile stretch of dirt and asphalt, surrounded by rugged wilderness and snowy mountain peaks. It is known as the Highway of Tears. It is here that countless women and girls—most of them Indigenous—have vanished since 1969. Highway of Tears explores the true story of what has happened along this troubled road. Journalist Jessica McDiarmid reassembles the lives of the victims—who they were, where they came from, who loved them, and what led them to the highway—and takes us into their families’ determined fight for the truth. The book also indicts the initial police investigations marred by incompetence and systemic racism, even as it shines a light on a larger phenomenon: the fact that more than a thousand indigenous women have gone missing or been found murdered across Canada, a topic brought to international attention when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opened an official inquiry into the case. Combining hard-hitting reporting with a keen, human eye, Highway of Tears is a penetrating look at decades’ worth of tragedy and the fight to honor the victims by preserving their stories and providing them the justice they deserve.
Publisher: New York : Atria Books, 2019
Edition: First Atria Books hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781501160288
1501160281
Branch Call Number: 362.88 Mc
Description: xiii, 331 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm

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Along northern Canada's Highway 16, a billboard reads "GIRLS, DON'T HITCHHIKE, KILLER ON THE LOOSE." The 450-mile stretch of dirt and asphalt surrounded by rugged wilderness is known as the Highway of Tears. It is here where countless Indigenous women and girls have vanished since 1969.... Read More »


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ArapahoeJohanna Jan 07, 2021

Highway of Tears is a sprawling narrative about interconnected tragedies in indigenous communities in British Columbia. Over the last few decades, a large number of indigenous women have gone missing, often in connection with the highway. These disappearances are all unsolved. Though the individual cases may not be linked to a single perpetrator, together they show a disturbing pattern indicative of social, economic, and political harm and neglect.

I do think this book was trying to be too many things at once, but it's an admirable effort with an important message. Parts of the book are disorganized or repetitive, and the audiobook was difficult to follow at times. Those issues aside, McDiarmid does a fantastic job telling the stories the missing women and their families. These are people who were largely ignored by the police and the media, and when the cases were reported on, it was done with far less empathy and depth than they deserved. Racism, oppression, poverty, and neglect have all conspired to create a situation in which young women can disappear over and over again with little to no media coverage or police investigation. Highway of Tears invites us combat this indifference with empathy and passion.

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