Review: “Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls”
Reviewed By: Christine Miskonoodinkwe-Smith
“Highway of Tears: A true story of racism, indifference and the pursuit of justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and girls,” is written by journalist Jessica McDiarmid and recounts the colonial and patriarchal history of northwestern British Columbia. She also brings to light the social and cultural tensions that small communities in northwestern BC face which has no doubt contributed to the stories of those who have gone missing or have been murdered on what has become known as the infamous Highway of Tears.
The Highway of Tears “is a 725-kilometre stretch of highway in British Columbia. And it is a microcosm of a national tragedy-and travesty. Indigenous people in this country are far more likely to face violence than any other segment of the population.”
McDiarmid writes about the Highway of Tears to bring more national awareness to the issue of the missing and murdered women and girls by writing firsthand accounts of those closest to the missing and murdered victims. She talks to the mothers, sisters, brothers and others who knew these missing and murdered women and brings forth stories that give these women and girls more than just a name that is written in a police officer’s book or a name on a piece of paper that is sitting on a shelve collecting dust because there has been no leads or tips to say where these women and girls went.
As an Indigenous woman, and as a reader, it was infuriating to read the various stories and know that so many missing and murdered women and girls families have suffered through so much pain and continue to suffer because there is no such thing as a tidy closure to what happened to their loved ones. Not only did I feel the pain and sorrow in each story, but I also felt the frustration bleeding through the pages at the indifference and almost dismissive actions the families faced when reporting their loved ones missing to the police in their communities.
I believe that McDiarmid wrote “The Highway of Tears: A true story of racism, indifference and the pursuit of justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and girls” to raise even more awareness surrounding the contentious issue of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada, and how Canada has and is continuing to fail not only Indigenous women and girls, but the Indigenous population as a whole.
McDiarmid does an excellent job of documenting the stories of the women and girls who have gone missing or have been murdered, as a reader I would have liked to have seen more analysis done on the complacency and disinterest that she documented throughout the book in regards to how the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) treated the families of those who went missing and were murdered. I believe it is this very complacency and disinterest from those in uniform who continue the stigmatization and stereotypes that are continually perpetuated in mainstream society against Indigenous women, girls and Indigenous men.
McDiarmid writes for a general audience, for Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous. She accomplishes getting more awareness out surrounding the Highway of Tears and its victims and the fight to accomplish some type of justice.
“Highway of Tears: a true story of Racism, Indifference and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls” was published by Double Day Canada in 2019 and is 332 pages. The ISBN number is 9 780385 687577.