Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The walk for justice reaches its finish line in Rupert, Former Mayor Pond is Lax Kwa'laams bound and Mr. Cullen has a few thoughts on Mr. Veniez, all part of the Tuesday offerings of the Daily News.

WALKERS MAKE THEIR WAY INTO RUPERT WITH A STRONG MESSAGE-- The Journey from Vancouver to Prince Rupert may be complete, but there is still much work to do in the cases of the missing and dead of the Highway of Tears.

On Monday a group of First Nations walkers brought to Prince Rupert their campaign of awareness and justice for those victims of the infamous stretch of highway, thankful for the support they have received along the way, but aware that the task ahead still requires much more effort and attention to the cause of justice. The Daily News featured their arrival in Prince Rupert as the front page headline story. (See story below)

Elsewhere in the paper, the rumblings of Herb Pond's new gig were finally proven true. The community rumour mill had been suggesting that the former Prince Rupert mayor was soon to be moving over to the government of Lax Kw'alaams as a band administrator, the Daily provided the first written confirmation of the move in Tuesday's edition (see blog item here)

Dan Veniez can expect a phone call or a letter or two from Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen shorlty, Cullen is looking into the current circumstances at Ridley Terminals, that as Veniez continues his high profile campaign to deliver the terminal into private control from it's current status as a Crown Corporation (more can be found on the blog here)

The sports section featured more details on the Mens Jubilee golf tournament and a pictorial display of the weekends wrap up to the minor soccer season.

Total pages in the Tuesday edition (12)

Front page, headline story:

By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Pages one and two

There was a brief moment on Monday when the Walk 4 Justice team looked like they could not take another step.

Co-founders Gladys Radek and Bernice Williams, along with their I5-person yellow t-shirt brigade, had made it to Prince Rupert's Fishermen Hall, the final destination on their 720 krn march down a stretch of northern pavement known by one name - the Highway of Tears - and the look of exhaustion was clearly spread across their faces.

But it wasn't from the 720 krn trek they had just finished moments before. It was for the work that lies ahead, the advocacy for 18 confirmed missing and murdered women along Highway 16 that begins as soon as tomorrow's sun rises.

"There is more awareness but not more hope," said Williams, one of the few who were still filled with energy after such a momentous walk. -

Standing in the hallway of Fishermen's Hall with the walk that began in Vancouver and snaked its way up to Prince George and then west to Prince Rupert, Williams and Radek say they do not trust the RCMP's investigation team to provide any closure for the families of the missing women and wonder out loud if there is political will to find any conclusions to the cases. Both women have grown frustrated by 20 years of no answers as to why these women disappeared.

"I would ay there is no political will except for a handful of politicians such as [Skeena-BulkleyValley MP] Nathan Cullen and [North Coast MIA] Gary Coons," said Radek. "They are humanitarians."

The co-founders were also grateful of First Nations leadership around the province who they said have done a lot to help encourage, inspire and lend a hand when needed. Of note, they wanted to thank Ed John of the First Nations Summit, Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, and especially Shaw Atleo of the Assembly of First Nations, who they said has made the case for the missing and murered women was not swept under the carpet.

But support was not just political. All along the road there were people and communities who showed significant support to the team's trek. Even in Prince Rupert, the odyssey's last leg, women and men were more than happy to help.

School District 52 aboriginal education principal Debbie Leighton–Stevens was on-hand to donate a cheque worth $200 to the Walk 4 Justice. The money was raised through a 50/50 draw during the National Aboriginal Day celebrations at the Jim Ciccone Centre the day before.

And Dwayne MacNeil of Entire Automotive even helped out late Sunday evening when he opened up the shop for the team so that they might have a couple of new tires bought and fitted to their van.

The co-founders did not lose sight of the help.

Nor have they lost sight of why they do what they do.

Most of the missing and murdered women are aboriginal.

"First of all, not all of the women were hitchhiking.

"And they weren't all [prostituting]," said Williams, "The only sin was our skin"

They criticized that since the symposium on missing women held two years ago, only two of the 33 recommendations have been followed up on.

But against a complete lack of evidence, a complete sense of helplessness, Williams and Radek have been able to remain emboldened that they will accomplish the one thing that eludes the families of the missing and murdered.

"I always believe 'in possibilities," said Williams.

"You are damn right we'll have closure," added Radek.

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