Wisdom from Granddad

~ Fox Northstar

When I heard this issue was going to

be a thematic to honour those
lost on the Highway of Tears (BC 16), I

could not think of anything I
knew about the victims.  Also, I do not

like being handed a mandate.

As I was in the midst of the Alaska-Arctic

Adventure, and figured I would be pretty well

beat, I would just pass.  Obviously, that was not

While we were dining out (a nice change) in Grande Cache, Alberta, CTV
News was on.  Couldn’t hear it over the din, but I noticed a crawler
that said “Bodies found on the Alaska Highway.”  Oh, great, just where
we were headed.  The next night, in a Provincial Park near Fort St
John, BC, I asked the ranger of any news.  He had none, but assured us
the gates are locked 11 PM to 7 AM, and not to worry. (Turns out that
is the standard practice in ALL BC Provincial Parks!)  I was not
worried, my 45 was “at the ready” (out, with clip close, but not
loaded). The next night, we made it to Tetsa River, and no new
details, other than the discovery of another body.

As we approached Muncho Lake, there were electronic highway signs with
the RCMP asking for dashcam footage in the area in the time frame of
the events. Finally, by the time we got to Whitehorse, we learned the
culprits had been found in Manitoba.  WHEW!

So it had been suggested I might share what I thought Granddad's point
of view might have been.  Well, that got me pondering, and the first
thing that popped to mind was “Who have I known, personally, that has
been murdered?”  Sadly, the only three that come to mind, were all
female. The first was someone who babysat us on family visits to Nova
Scotia.  A family friend whose name many of you will know, Anna Mae
Pictou. I was just out of high school when that news came home.
Another was a friend of the then wife’s. We had gotten chummy with a
couple, when she came up missing.  Sadly, her body was found another
state over, and her husband had nothing to do with it.  The last was a
shocker!  I went to a high school reunion and learned someone I had
grown up with had been done in by her husband.  Still sad about each
and all.

Now it was time to research the Highway of Tears.  I was aware of it,
and then a few years back, an episode of 48 Hours (on CBS) covered it.
While it gave lots of information, being on the idiot box, it did not
really stick.  Most people have no idea how remote northern British
Columbia is! Communities are literally few and far between.  Most are
not much more than a cluster of a few buildings.  It is mostly the
bush, bears and beasts.

I read many items, both online and hard copy.  Basic statistics from
all that?  Seventy-one cases, only twenty-two solved.  Appalling if
you think of forensics on the telly, but those are all staged.
Considering how far out in the bush this is, and the lack of much
traffic, I would think a one-third “solved” rate not too shabby.
However, I am sure the families of those lost would disagree!

Now the quandary, what would Granddad think?  I had to keep in mind
that, as far as I know, his experience in the bush was when he was a
lumberjack near Saginaw, Michigan, in the late 1920s.  Also,
circumstances were much different then.  The crimes we see today were
not even thought of back in that day.

I am sure he would be appalled at the number of women who has
disappeared over the decades on the Highway of Tears.  While I believe
he would be relieved that some have been solved, he would also
question why more has not been done.  While I can appreciate that,
unless you have been out in the bush in British Columbia, it can be
hard to wrap your head around the vastness of the area.  Therein lies
the key.

Granted, it IS under the jurisdiction of the RCMP, but on our trip, I
noticed how thinly they are spread out up there.  And keep in mind the
garrisons do not have many bodies on staff.  They are spread quite
thin. That having been said, it is not like us who live in more
populated areas, which seem to have an ever increasing police
presence. (Sad that it has become necessary!)

So, just what can be done?  I wish I had an answer.  I can only
suggest the RCMP beef up its patrols on BC 16.  But, then again, it is
the luck of the draw.  The randomness of the situation just adds to
the frustration of not being able to stop it.  And THAT is a crying
shame! (Granddad loved that expression.)

Note from the Author:  Photos show the remoteness of northern BC