Mabel Todd, 83, of the Nak’azdli First Nation, leads a group of family members and advocates of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls as they walk along the so-called Highway of Tears in Moricetown, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Mabel Todd, 83, of the Nak’azdli First Nation, leads a group of family members and advocates of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls as they walk along the so-called Highway of Tears in Moricetown, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Province, feds fund full cell service along ‘Highway of Tears’ following years of advocacy

A ‘critical milestone in helping prevent future tragedies’ after at least 10 Indigenous women murdered, missing along the route

The northern B.C. stretch of highway that’s become synonymous with the tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women will soon have improved cellular service.

On Wednesday (April 7) the province announced the $11.7-million plan to build 12 cellular towers and 252 kilometres of new coverage along Highway 16’s “Highway of Tears.”

It will ensure those in need along the 724-kilometre route between Prince George and Prince Rupert will be able to call for help.

It’s a problem that’s gone unaddressed for years after being a Highway of Tears Symposium report recommendation to enhance safety for Indigenous women and girls.

“Families and survivors have highlighted the connection between MMIWG and gaps in cellular service along Canadian highways,” said Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations.

READ MORE: Billboard along B.C.’s Highway of Tears remembers missing and murdered Indigenous women

Since 1969, at least 18 women have been murdered or reported missing along the highway, according to RCMP. Of them, 10 were Indigenous women or girls.

Improving cell service along Highway 16 was urged by a national inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, launched in 2015.

“It is a critical milestone in helping prevent future tragedies along this route,” said Lisa Beare, B.C.’s Minister of Citizens’ Services.

READ MORE: Killing spree still feeds unease in B.C.’s isolated north, one year later

Rogers will be given $4.5 million towards the cost of installing infrastructure for cellular coverage in remaining weak-signal areas between Prince Rupert and Smithers. The company plans to cover the rest, breaking ground this spring.

The project will also provide coverage for three rest areas along Highway 16 at Boulder Creek, Basalt Creek and Sanderson Point.

“We must continue to do everything in our power to prevent violence against Indigenous women and girls to ensure they are safe to travel anywhere in our province,” said director Barb Ward-Burkitt of the Prince George Native Friendship Centre.

The project’s slated completion is in fall 2022.

RELATED: Stories of loss, pain heard at missing and murdered Indigenous women inquiry



sarah.grochowski@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Highway 16Highway of TearsMMIWMMIW Inquiry

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Highway 97A in Armstrong was closed in both directions Monday afternoon, just after 4 p.m., due to a serious accident at Rosedale Avenue. (Bob Dunbar photo)
No merge lanes needed on Armstrong’s Highway 97 access points: ministry

Transportation Ministry reviews accident reports, slope stability with city staff

Donna Kaufmann was named the 2021 Rotary RCMP Volunteer of the Year. (RCMP)
Vernon RCMP volunteer of the year named

Donna Kaufmann dubbed winner for positive impact on community

Lauren Marchand and her daughter at the head of Okanagan Lake in Syilx territory, where they often go to gather, play and be in ceremony. Photo by Kelsie Kilawna
‘I don’t feel safe’: RCMP, social worker searched Syilx mother’s home without her knowledge

RCMP searched the home looking for a meth lab, that was never found inside the residence

Tom Smithwick has written a new book, Knocking On Freedom’s Door, about his experiences advocating for a drug addiction treatment program in Kelowna. (File photo)
‘Knocking On Freedom’s Door’: A retired Kelowna lawyer’s insights to mental illness, addiction

Freedom’s Doors advocate Tom Smithwick shares what he has learned from experiences of treatment program clients in new book

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.[CDC]
More COVID-19 exposures reported at schools in Kelowna

Interior Health added additional schools and dates to their list of exposures

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Most Read