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

At their April 20 board meeting, School District 83 trustees agreed to add a new option to the Long Range Facilities Plan, E6, which proposes two Grade 9-12 high school campuses, Sullivan and at Shuswap Middle School, with the Jackson campus becoming a Grade 6-8 middle school. (File photo)
School District 83 adds new option for Salmon Arm schools

No decision made on Long Range Facilities Plan, trustees considering more consultation

Salmon Arm City Councillor Chad Eliason, then-Mayor Nancy Cooper, then Coun.-Marg Kentel and BC Transit Sr. Regional Manager Steve Harvard and guests on board a local transit bus in December 2011 during a celebration marking 20 years of transit service in the area. (File photo)
Province follows transit tradition similar to Salmon Arm’s 15 years later

In 2006 the city introduced free bus rides for children and youth on all school and other holidays

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
54 more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty-two people in the region are in hospital with the virus, 11 of them in intensive care

Shuswap Middle School principal Sydney Griffith notified parents on Tuesday, April 20 that a member of the school community had tested positive for COVID-19. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Shuswap Middle School parents notified of new potential COVID-19 exposure dates

April 20 notice says member of school community tested positive for virus

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

Virtual meetings are taking a toll on local governance, according to multiple mayors in the North Okanagan. (Headway photo)
Virtual meetings leave North Okanagan politicians out of touch

More than a year of Zoom has led to a disconnect between officials, according to local mayors

Nick Trask, 36, and Ryan Ellison, 35, died in a boat collision on Osoyoos Lake in 2019. (Facebook photo)
Meth, excessive speed found as factors in 2019 Osoyoos boat crash deaths

Nick Trask, 36, and Ryan Ellison, 35, died in a boat collision on Osoyoos Lake in 2019

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
‘I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident wants the Columbia River better protected

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

The City of Penticton is looking into the possibility of licensing certain public spaces to permit alcohol consumption during set hours. The city could see legal public drinking as early as June 5, 2020. (Monique Tamminga - Western News)
Booze on the beach set to make a comeback in Penticton for summer 2021

Penticton council gave the first three readings to bring back limited public drinking

Most Read