Friday, November 29, 2019

Highway of Tears by Jessica McDiarmid

One last book for November. It's a sobering non-fiction look at the disturbing disappearances of thousands of Indigenous women along a stretch of highway in Canada. Called the Highway of Tears, this road travels through some pretty desolate places, in between very small communities and towns. 

These disappearances, some over fifty years old, are a national crisis that, hopefully with this book, will be getting some much needed attention and funding. Reading the stories of these young women--most of them teenagers, disappearing and never found, broke my heart, and made me pretty angry at the same time. Their families knew something was wrong, and when they would report their loved ones missing, the police often brushed off their claims, saying the girls ran off on their own, or were troublemakers--prostitutes. In reality, these were young girls who were ignored by law enforcement because they were Indigenous, and that meant they weren't important enough to look for them. 
All of them had dreams to attend college, become forest rangers, psychologists, mothers, artists. They had so much life ahead of them. 

Families spent years searching and begging for help, and often got nothing in return. A few learned of the fates of their daughters and sisters: their bodies were found; stabbed, beaten, left in ditches or off the side of a desolate road. Thrown away like garbage. No one has ever been arrested for these murders. So many unanswered questions. So much heartbreak, the kind that destroys families. Poverty, culture, prejudice, and hundreds of years of oppression certainly play a big part in this outrageous lack of justice. The madness of it all is that it continues on, in 2019. Young women continue to disappear on the Highway of Tears at a consistent pace. 

This was a fascinating, and disturbing look at a national crisis that highlights the continued dismissal of Indigenous people. The utter lack of respect for them as human beings with the same rights to safety and protection as the rest of us is maddening and absolutely shameful. 

Rating: 5/6 for a detailed look at the dangers of the Highway of Tears, the continued dismissal of Indigenous people's safety and concerns for missing loved ones, and the hope that their voices are finally being heard. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

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