Local trekking to boost awareness of Highway of Tears
An East Kootenay man is giving his best final days to help bring awareness to First Nation injustices.
Kimberley resident Brett Merchant is planning to walk over 1,236-km across B.C. on Highway 16 to raise awareness for the young women who were murdered or are missing along this highway.
Named the Highway of Tears, Highway 16 has been the setting of over a dozen unsolved murders between the time of 1969 -2011. The majority of these murders are young aboriginal girls.
“I am doing this because I am facing significant health issues. I have SLE lupus, early onset dementia and diabetes and am very aware that I have a limited time in which I will be physically able to make a difference in the world,” Merchant said on a gofundme page, established to help a native women’s shelter.
“I was raised in Cranbrook and my family was very involved with and connected to the local First Nations community. As I grew up I witnessed the struggles aboriginal people had and still have to deal with and the injustices towards this population. This is my way of giving back and increasing awareness for the families and victims of the Highway of Tears murders,” he explained.
Merchant will be starting this epic and noble trek at the British Columbia-Alberta border at the sign that says welcome to B.C. on Highway 16 September 1 at 12 p.m.
He anticipates arriving at his destination on December 31 at Old Masset on Haida Gwaii with his dog Kura.
“I will be walking and tenting only if you are along the highway and see me stop and say hi, I will be accepting small food packages I can only pack small amounts, and there are a few spots where there is nothing for many kilometres. The money raised will go towards a Native Women’s Shelter. It is my belief that this is the best place for the money to be directed because it will help empower the next generation of aboriginal women. It will help provide women with an alternative safe, emergency shelter to go to. While I cannot undo the murders that have occurred along the Highway of Tears, I hope that by raising awareness during my 1,236 km walk I can help prevent further injustices from happening,” Merchant said.
“I am grateful for any donations. I am also grateful for any emails encouraging me along the way. Please don’t hesitate to email me [email protected]”
To make a donation: https://www.gofundme.com/highwayoftears