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

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion spotted in bizarre area of remote Holberg Road

Greg Clarke was driving home to Holberg on Monday, April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Port Hardy Minor Hockey logo
Port Hardy Minor Hockey hands out year-end awards

The ‘Outstanding Parent Volunteer Award’ went to Kimberly Hunt and Blair Isaac.

Melissa Milligan is working to build a disc golf course in Port Hardy. (Submitted photo)
Port Hardy’s disc golf survey results are in

138 people in total took the survey, with 94 per cent voting yes.

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations in Gold River area

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

Restaurant owners Oura and Kymon Giakoumakis visit the PQB News/VI Free Daily studio. (Peter McCully photo)
PODCAST: COVID-19 pandemic hits Island’s food service industry hard

Pair of Vancouver Island restaurant owners share thoughts and advice

A real estate sign is pictured in Vancouver, B.C., on June 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward
1 in 3 young Canadians have given up on owning a home: poll

Data released Monday says 36% of adults younger than 40 have given up, 62% think they’ll be priced out of the market in the next decade

A Nanaimo man will serve nine months in jail for the sexual assault of a young girl he admitted to having committed more than 40 years ago. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo man sentenced for sexually abusing girl more than 40 years ago

Man, now 71, gets nine-month sentence for abuse of friend’s daughter

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. urges people to stay in their neighbourhoods, discourages out-of-household meet-ups

Dr. Bonnie Henry says there should be no travel, even to the next city over

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Most Canadians plan to get COVID-19 vaccine, but safety fears drive hesitancy: poll

This comes as confidence in governments is plummeting in provinces being hit hardest by the pandemic

Marathon of Hope runner Terry Fox is shown in a 1981. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/CP)
Terry Fox’s legacy of resilience resonates during COVID-19 crisis, says brother

Fred Fox said his brother’s legacy of resilience has taken on renewed resonance as COVID-19 rages on

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Onlookers laugh and jeer as B.C. teen beaten, then forced to strip and walk home

Police arrest older teen, call video shared on social media ‘disturbing’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

Most Read