Along northern Canada’s Highway 16, a yellow billboard reads GIRLS, DON’T HITCHHIKE. KILLER ON THE LOOSE. The highway is a 450-mile stretch of dirt and asphalt, known as the Highway of Tears. It is here that countless women and girls—most of them Indigenous—have vanished since 1969. Highway of Tears explores the true story of what has happened along this troubled road. Journalist Jessica McDiarmid reassembles the lives of the victims—who they were, where they came from, who loved them, and what led them to the highway—and takes us into their families’ determined fight for the truth.
Investigative journalist McDiarmid shines a powerful light on an ongoing tragedy. For decades, Canadian law enforcement and the country’s legal system has ineffectually dealt with thousands of cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women ... This ongoing national crisis of violence against women is not unique to Canada, and is being scrutinized in the United States, too. McDiarmid’s exposé of racism and the lack of justice for indigenous women should be required reading for all.
... thoroughly researched. Through extensive interviews with the victims’ friends and families, McDiarmid provides an intimate account of each person—their personality, hobbies, aspirations—ensuring they’re viewed as three-dimensional individuals. McDiarmid also weaves in haunting statistics highlighting the injustice of each loss ... The statistics are sometimes jarringly inserted into the narrative, but this flaw is easily overlooked given the abundance of information about tragedies that have received little attention ... The women and girls lost on the Highway of Tears haven’t received the justice they deserve. But in telling their stories and shining a light on the justice system and society that have failed them, McDiarmid hopes that change will finally happen—beginning with us.
... a riveting account of the terror visited on a community when their children go missing, made even more horrific by helplessness felt when polite society and the media ignore them, and law enforcement barely seems to muster a token effort to find them. Not all law enforcement, of course, and the author gives credit where credit is deserved, highlighting the diligent efforts of some, such as RCMP detective Garry Kerr.