June 21 to Sept. 20, 2013. That’s how long it will take to walk across Canada from Sydney, Nova Scotia to Prince Rupert, B.C. Walking for Tears4Justice raises awareness about the missing and murdered women and children in Canada, putting pressure on politicians for a national public inquiry.
“Violence is escalating,” Aleck Clifton said. “In 2008, during the first walk, 11 women went missing. In 2011, during the same number of days, while we walked, 37 women went missing. And program funding is being cut.”
Clifton, who lives in Hartly, B.C., has participated in each of the five walks across the continent.
Many volunteers helped host the Tears4Justice walkers, including preparing a potluck meal for over 50 people. Tina Donald of Simpcw First Nation council donated the fish.
Cindy Wilgosh (Aboriginal engagement coordinator for Success by Six), Cheryl Thomas (North Thompson Aboriginal Cultural Centre coordinator), and others who participated in the walk as it passed through the North Thompson Valley last year asked how they could do more to support the cause.
Clearwater, Vavenby, Avola and Barriere residents supported Tears4Justice with cash, gas cards, phone cards, meals, accommodation, walkers, police escort, media attention, listening to the stories of the walkers, understanding the issues and ways to become involved, including awareness of the reality of local missing women, violence and programs available to help.
Participating in the walk and/or attending the community meal in support of the Tears4Justice walk were: Sam Saul (Simpcw elder), Jean Bonner (First Nations educational support worker at Raft River Elementary School), Sergeant Kevin Podbisky (RCMP), Kim Strickland (Victim Assistance Unit), Clearwater councillors Shelley Sims and Jon Kreke, Wendy Vogels (Yellowhead Community Services Safe Home Program and Women’s Services: Community Connections for Women’s Safety and also Stopping the Violence programs), and Cadets from the North Thompson.
Below: Local volunteers join nine Tears4Justice walkers at Dutch Lake on Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 28, for a walk through Clearwater. Later a potluck dinner was shared at the North Thompson Aboriginal Centre.