Blog Gladys Radek National National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls National News Violence women

The journey of Gladys Radek and her fight for human rights

Charlotte Morritt-Jacobs
APTN Information
Gladys Radek loves music.

She says it helps her get via robust occasions, like now, as she prepares for the release of the final report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Ladies and Women (MMIWG) in Gatineau, Quebec.

“I have been anxious for the last while, realizing that this is closing the circle, that gap, that I set up to do back in 2008,” Radek says.

Radek has invited APTN News to hear her truths and meet some of her buddies as she travels throughout Canada for this trigger one final time.

(Gladys Radek on the brink of witness the ultimate report for the Nationwide Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Ladies and Women. Photograph: Charlotte Morritt-Jacobs/APTN)

“As beautiful as God’s country is up here there’s still a lot of ghosts in the closet that need to be addressed. That’s what I think about all the time,” she says.

The ghosts she speaks of lie alongside notorious Hwy 16 – better referred to as the Freeway of Tears in B.C.

Radek is from the Gitxsan Moist’suwet’en territory, more commonly generally known as Moricetown.

She has seen the nation while advocating for stolen sisters by means of her “March 4 Justice” walks.

“Before this movement, before the walks, no one was talking about the missing and murdered women. Our family members right across the nation were in their own pain, their little world – they thought nobody cared,” Radek says.

(Radek says the “War Pony,” is one of her greatest tools for raising consciousness round MMIWG. Photograph: Charlotte Morritt-Jacobs/APTN)

In her residence on the outskirts of Terrace, B.C., she types via photographs of MMIWG.

The quantity swells annually. This time there are greater than 110 footage to tape on her hatchback which she calls her “war pony.”

It began with one, her niece Tamara Chipman, who went lacking from Prince Rupert, B.C. in 2005.

Tamara was 22 years previous on the time and mom to a 4-year-old boy when she disappeared.

She continues to be lacking at present.

In 2008 Radek began the Tears 4 Justice March, strolling from B.C. to Ottawa.

The walk shortly gathered momentum as families started to hitch her in help.

She has completed seven walks.

“It was far beyond any organization or paid government employees. I think what we did came from our hearts and it was more meaningful than anything else,” she says.

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Radek has inspired many so there’s fairly a couple of to say good-bye to before heading out.

That features her sister Lorna Brown, who’s co-founder of the Tears to Hope Relay, where households increase consciousness for missing and murdered Indigenous ladies.

“My brother (Tamara’s Dad) is not comfortable being in the media so Gladys has been our voice for so many years, and she has been the voice for so many families across Canada,” she says.

“This is not an Aboriginal issue – this is all of our issue,” Brown says.

(Radek and her sister Lorna Brown.  Photograph: Charlotte Morritt-Jacobs/APTN)

Radek has skilled racism throughout her walks with men following and recording members.

Scarier still she says is the shortage of RCMP presence during these walks.

“We walked into Portage La Prairie, (MB) right when Jennifer Catcheway had gone missing. We were just approaching town and on the side of the road I saw a black hoodie,” she says.

“It freaked me right out, because that was the last thing she was seen wearing.”

Radek says she phoned the police and pleaded with them to gather the sweater.

What she didn’t anticipate was what she describes as indifference from the RCMP.

“It took them an hour-and-a-half and we have been simply out of city. That exhibits the police don’t care.

“They eventually did come back, picked up the sweater but didn’t call back to follow up,” she says.

(The Highway of Tears spans 720-kilometers from the Coast of Prince Rupert, British Columbia to Prince George, B.C. Photograph: Charlotte Morritt-Jacobs/APTN)

On the last cease to select up some sacred ocean water, Radek’s daughter’s family has ready for her, her son-in-law William Dick references extra careless attitudes he has seen at play when Indigenous ladies have gone lacking.

“I might hear individuals say ‘that girl went missing because she was in to drugs.’ Properly, she went missing because any person made a option to kill her. She went lacking as a result of any person murdered her and left her somewhere.

“She didn’t go missing because she was a drunk or into prostitution,” Dick says.

(Gladys Radek’s fridge in Terrace, B.C. Photograph: Charlotte Morritt-Jacobs/APTN)

It’s 6 a.m. and Radek smudges the photographs taped on the struggle pony.

She keeps the reminiscence of Tamara shut by putting her image entrance and centre on the hood, bouncing a mirrored image into the interior that may be seen at all times.

“Going to Gatineau – to the big house and delivering our voices to them (Canada) – it is an important step towards positive change,” she says.

At the MMIWG inquiry hearings in Smithers, B.C., which sits along the Hwy of Tears, Radek gave suggestions around limitations to security Indigenous ladies and women face within the communities alongside Hwy 16.

Some issues in her space have improved like the implementation of a low-cost public shuttle bus.

However walk into any fuel station along the freeway, and you’ll see the faces of lacking and murdered on posters touting rewards for any info.

(Missing individual poster found in Kitwanga, B.C. truck stop. Photograph: Charlotte Morritt-Jacobs/APTN)

Because the hearings in northern B.C., two ladies have been found lifeless and one has gone lacking from Smithers.

Chantelle Simpson, age 34, was found in Skeena River, 10 kilometres east of Terrace.

Eighteen-year-old Jessica Patrick’s remains have been discovered on the Hudson Bay Mountain in Smithers.

And Frances Brown, (53) whose photograph is acknowledged by her auntie when Radek was parked in Moricetown, went missing in the forest north of Smithers.

(Auntie of Frances Brown wishing Radek properly after she sees her niece’s photograph taped to the “war pony.” Photograph: Charlotte Morritt-Jacobs/APTN)

Radek drops by a truck stop in Kitwanga, B.C. to satisfy Wanda Good, an previous pal and fellow MMIWG advocate.

Over the roar of semis passing by, Good tells APTN her household has never had closure for her loved ones.

Her cousin Alberta Williams went missing in 1989 and was discovered 10 days later murdered outdoors Prince Rupert.

Her cousin Lana Derrick disappeared with no hint in 1995 near Terrace and has never been discovered.

“Back when my cousins went missing. there was no response for about two weeks at least. We did our own searches, and put up our own posters,” she says.

Good believes the inquiry’s recommendations should target the basis cause of marginalization and demand action for all ranges of authorities.

“I feel 23 years later (because the disappearance of Lana Derrick) the response is best but the stereotypes and attitudes still haven’t modified.

“When we do speak up, we mostly get reactions like eye rolls,” Good says.

(Wanda Good tells Radek she is translating the chief abstract of the MMIWG national inquiry into her traditional Gitxsan language. Photograph: Charlotte Morritt-Jacobs/APTN)

Driving alongside the two-lane graytop, Radek factors out several markers of violence – including the place where her abusers still reside, she says.

“I want to see dollars rolled out for health, healing and wellness centres. Especially as more of our women and girls are migrating to cities. This is about the rights of our future generations,” she says.

Radek additionally fights for those not included in Highway of Tears justice initiatives –  victims who went lacking or have been found on corridors round but indirectly tied to Highway 16.

Doug Leslie’s daughter’s case matches that bill.

Loren Leslie was 15 when she was found murdered on a logging street north of Vanderhoof, B.C., in 2010.

“It just seems like it is a little fad and it goes away. In order to get anything done at all it takes people like Gladys to turn the key again,” Leslie says.

(Doug Leslie exhibits off a method he keeps his daughter’s memory alive. Via starting a basis in her honour. Photograph: Charlotte Morritt-Jacobs/APTN)

Loren’s teeter totter and tire swing remain in place – a reminder of loss all the time in sight in Leslie’s backyard.

“For the first seven years I wrote to Loren everyday on Facebook,” he says. “Now I plan on taking that off of Fb and writing a guide.

“Hopefully it will help someone else get through their seven years.”

Watch Part 2 of Gladys’ story

Loren’s perpetrator additionally murdered three different ladies between 2009 and 2010 together with Jill Stacey Stuchenko, 35-year-old mother of six, Cynthia Frances Maas, 35, and Natasha Lynn Montgomery, 23 yr previous mother of two whose body has by no means been discovered.

Radek was planning on making it to Edmonton to rest, but when a wildfire closes the highway close to Edson, Alta., she drives via the night time on darkish logging roads.

She’s determined to push forward.

In the morning, she makes it to Saskatchewan and drops by Myrna LaPlante’s house in Saskatoon.

Her aunt, Emily Osmond Laplante, (78) vanished from her house on Kawacatoose First Nation, Sask. in 2007, and her 17-year-old nephew Cody Wolfe went missing in 2011 from Lestock, Sask.

LePlante says she needs to see more motion plans developed to maintain youth protected.

“Can’t we live in a society where my daughter, son and grandchildren can be safe? We are cognizant of what is going on in our communities with our youth who are in a vulnerable state,” she says.

LaPlante is a longtime advocate and has helped households conduct searches for their loved ones.

She says an important motion one can take throughout occasions of tragedy is supporting and receiving help from different families in comparable situations.

“People will ask about my missing aunt and nephew and question how I cope. I say it is the love and prayers of the community and the emotional support of families that I have. Having met Gladys and Bernie Williams and all of the families that we have connected across the country,” she says.

(APTN Information reporter Charlotte Morritt-Jacobs and Gladys Radek on a street trip from Terrace, B.C. to Saskatoon.)

Despite some who are important of the inquiry, Radek says she doesn’t want those criticisms to mar the successes.

“I think about those commissioners and I think about how long it took me to learn all of these stories. It took me 11 years and they were given 2.5 years to learn those stories, to hear and learn and figure out what can we do to change things,” Radek says.

It’s time to go. Radek nonetheless has so much of highway and preventing left to go.

“My message to Justin Trudeau, honour us. The families have real hearts and they love. Honour us by giving us what we want in those recommendations,” she says.

“It is not hard to live by basic human rights standards.”

(Radek’s conflict pony outdoors the Canadian Museum of Historical past in Gatineau, Que. the place the closing ceremony was held. Photograph: Brendan Hennigan/APTN)

At the closing ceremony, her last vacation spot, Radek has another thing to say.

She walked as much as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was clutching the final report in his arms, and requested him to return out to see her conflict pony – which is now coated in pictures of missing and murdered Indigenous ladies and women.

Trudeau, who was concerned within the closing ceremonies, shook his head. He was on his solution to the airport to catch a flight to Vancouver for a worldwide ladies’s conference.

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