Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley
I don’t know when I first heard about The Highway of Tears (Highway 16 in BC, from Prince George to Prince Rupert). Most likely when I was reading about women dying on the border between the US and Mexico (there are parallels). I also know that it is more of sign than an abnormality both in the US and Canada. While I have read a few books on the subject, Jessica McDiarmid’s book is one of the best.
McDiarmid covers not only some of the cases that make up the Highway of Tears, what is more important, she spends time placing the murders in context and showing the families as more than just victims, and how such families are really not disposable no matter what society thinks. McDiarmid also presents the viewpoint of police as well as the reasons for the far less than cordial relationships between the Indigenous Community and police. She also details the various community efforts to get answers.
But if you are picking up this book, you know that the story isn’t a happy one.
It is to McDiarmid’s credit that she not only presents the victims as real people whose absence greatly affects those around. The taking one life impacts a community and that is detailed. More importantly, the history of the area in general and in terms of Indigenous populations as well as their treatment at the hands of the government. She also refers to other cases, such as the Pickton murders and the Gilbert Paul Jordan murders. The Highway of Tears isn’t quite as unique as you may hope it to be. The report that came out at the end of the summer was not referred to in this digital ARC, not surprising given the time frame.
In part, the book does also challenge us to do better – not only terms of Canada and the Indigenous Women there but also those in the United States because there really isn’t that much difference unless it is that Canada situation is drawing more national and international attention.
McDiarmid’s writing is engrossing and she carries the reader well. She lets the emotions of the people speak for themselves instead of trying gilding them with flowery phrases. It is the language that makes the details of the book far more chilling.