NDP MLAs to travel B.C. Highway of Tears

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      A group of NDP MLAs are travelling Highway 16 in northern B.C. this week to highlight calls for better transportation options along the route.

      Maurine Karagianis, the NDP critic for women’s issues, will start the journey from Prince Rupert to Prince George on Tuesday (April 22) with North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice and Victoria-Beacon Hill MLA Carole James.

      “Our intention is to drive that route, get a very first-hand experience of what that is like to be travelling in that area,” she told the Straight by phone.

      “We are going to stop along the road where there are a number of billboards that have been put up that warn women that it’s dangerous to hitchhike there.”

      In his final report on the B.C. missing women inquiry, Wally Oppal urged the provincial government to develop an enhanced public transit system between northern communities, particularly along Highway 16, where many women have gone missing or been murdered.

      As part of their two-day trip, the MLAs plan to meet with community leaders who have been calling for a shuttle bus for the area.

      “Better bus service has been in demand up there for a very long time,” she noted.

      The group also plans to pick up hitchhikers along the corridor known as the Highway of Tears.

      “We know that it’s a vital link for people getting back and forth,” she said. “Certainly for many First Nations women, the simple chore of going and getting a quart of milk, or a loaf of bread, often, if there’s no other options, they will end up hitchhiking to do that.”

      The MLAs intend to post social media and video updates along the way.

      “We return to the legislature next week, and it’s our intention to really highlight to the government again the call for some kind of transportation options along the highway,” added Karagianis.




      Apr 21, 2014 at 5:22pm

      Are they hitchhiking it? Picking up hitchhikers is a nice gesture, I guess. But kind-of halfassing it.


      Apr 21, 2014 at 6:37pm

      Disgusting comment Eric, considering the women who have gone missing hitch hiking on this highway. Completely tasteless and crass, but I guess its to be expected when you can hide behind your computer screen, tough guy.

      Mike Summers

      Apr 21, 2014 at 9:51pm

      As a resident of Vanderhoof, I can attest to the problems in these small communities.
      Ms Karagianus has known about the problems for years. In fact, I visited her office in the BC Legislature when Harry Lali was the Minister of Transportation regarding taxis and illegal operators.
      Nothing was done by Harry or his successor in the Liberal government.
      Bobby Virk did Maureen's job after the election in 2001.
      It has become so hard to operate transportation because of fuel costs, insurance costs and regulatory issues, that most communities don't have any licenced public transportation at all. No buses or taxis.
      If you try to use Greyhound, they only run once a day both ways and Sunday they don't operate at all.
      How the heck can you hope to stop hitchhiking if there isn't an alternative?
      Nice try Maureen et al. But I think you are spitting into the wind.

      Sad State of Affairs

      Apr 22, 2014 at 9:02am

      I've always wondered why the RCMP haven't committed one or two undercover cops to this route, even for a year or two, to lure out the culprit(s). I guess there aren't that many Aboriginal female RCMP officers. Still, I am one hundred percent certain that more could be done, and more would be done if the demographics of the victims were different.


      Apr 22, 2014 at 10:23am

      Gypsy, As a young woman who lived and worked right on HWY 16, I can attest to the validity of Eric's question. The point is that there is little public transportation along the route and hitchhiking is often the only mode of travel. For MLAs to 'drive' HWY 16 in order to get "first hand experience of what it is to travel in that area" seems a bit like missing the point. Believe me, that road is a scary place indeed and it needs to be walked and waited on and hitch-hiked on in order to grasp the full "experience" of that place.