(Introduction to show begins)
TODD MATTHEWS (Missing Pieces Host): This is Missing Pieces. I’m Todd Matthews and today we have Gladys Radek with us. Is that how you pronounce your last name, Gladys?
GLADYS RADEK (Guest): Yes.
TODD: Okay. You are about to run a race, starting tomorrow, June 21st, 2008, a ‘Walk4Justice.’
TODD: Why are you doing this walk?
GLADYS: I’m doing this walk so that we can raise the awareness for the Prime Minister and the INAF Minister (Indian and Northern Affairs Minister) about the far too many missing and murdered women across Canada.
TODD: Is it primarily Aboriginal women, or every woman?
GLADYS: The majority…the statistics are leading to majority Aboriginal women, yes.
TODD: But you’re looking to embrace anybody that’s been a victim?
GLADYS: Pardon me?
TODD: You’re willing to just embrace anybody that’s been a victim?
GLADYS: Well, my niece is missing and this is what really started things rolling, was because my niece, Tamara Lynn Chipman went missing from the ‘Highway of Tears’ in Northern British Columbia. It was dubbed as the ‘Highway of Tears’ in 2002, when one White girl went missing and then when she went missing, there was a big media frenzy…
GLADYS: …and then we realized that, a lot of people started realizing like, “Hey, wait a minute, there are a lot of Aboriginal women that are missing up here too, and there is nothing being said in the media about it.” So when I started researching how many women, through family members and that, I’ve got way more on my list than the RCMP are putting out there. And so this is what really triggered everything was the fact that the media and that have not covered and the police are not talking about all these missing and murdered women, when they should be.
TODD: Well, tell me a little bit more about your niece.
GLADYS: My niece, Tamara, was 22 years old when she disappeared…
GLADYS: …and she left behind a little two-and-a-half-year-old boy. She was my brother’s only natural daughter, and she supposedly was last seen hitchhiking out of Prince Rupert BC Industrial Park. She lived in Terrace, which is the next town over, about 140 kilometers away.
TODD: Well, who is taking care of her child now?
GLADYS: He is staying with his natural father and spends kind of half and half time right now with my brother as well. (Gladys talks to someone ‘off camera’)
TODD: It sounds like a lot of activities going on there getting ready for this race.
GLADYS: Pardon me?
TODD: A lot of activity is going on there in preparation for this walk tomorrow.
GLADYS: Yes, it’s been a long, grueling road and we’re just itching to go.
TODD: Now, how many miles are you going to walk altogether?
GLADYS: We’re going to try to do an average of about 30 kilometers a day.
GLADYS: It’s going to be a relay style.
TODD: Hmm. And this is going to go on all the way to September 15th, right?
GLADYS: Pardon me?
TODD: It’s going all the way to September 15th?
GLADYS: We have the news planned right across the country through all the First Nations communities on our route. We have events happening in Kamloops, like from here we’ll be stopping at the Robert Pickton farm, I’m not sure if you’ve heard about that.
TODD: Oh yeah. I’m very familiar with that event. (Missing Pieces – Episode 7)
GLADYS: Okay. Well, that’s going to be our first stop and we’re going to stand there and we’re going to have a ceremony and vigil for the women from the Robert Pickton farm.
TODD: In fact, some of my friends, we did some of the sketches for the ladies. Primarily, there were just the mugshots and with Project EDAN, we did an image of each of them that were to be used in memorials for, you know, different events, where a mugshot just wasn’t the best side of them, it wasn’t a true representation of that individual.
GLADYS: That’s right, because, you know, Canadians are notorious for labeling the First Nations women as high-risk, and we’re really sick of that, because not all of us are high-risk. The only thing we have is our skin.
TODD: Uh-huh. Well, you can’t change that.
GLADYS: No, well, you know what, we can, and the thing is, you know this public apology that the Prime Minister has just made…
GLADYS: …that came out of nowhere. You know when we first started planning this ‘Walk4Justice,’ there wasn’t even a word, there wasn’t even a peep about this apology, it just came upon our whole nation by surprise.
TODD: And that is something that you can change: the idealisms of the country, that can be changed. It’s the color of your skin that you can’t change and why should you? You shouldn’t have to.
GLADYS: Yeah. The thing is, like, we’re not asking too much, I don’t think. We’re asking for justice…
GLADYS: …closure, equality and accountability.
TODD: Just an equal nation.
TODD: Well now, what do you…?
GLADYS: We want the truth out there. That’s the reason…that’s the reason for the whole thing is we want the truth out there. You know, I’ve been an advocate since Tamara disappeared. I’ve been across the nation since Tamara disappeared, spreading the word about and raising awareness about the violence against our women. I’ve been doing interviews from all…from people all over the world; it’s gone international…
GLADYS: …right through to Geneva, right through to the UN, right through to…I’ve done interviews in Africa, Brazil, Paris, Geneva, Mexico, you know, I’ve done interviews everywhere, and you know what? In the two-and-a-half years that I’ve been advocating for these missing women, not one case from the ‘Highway of Tears’ has been solved. Not one.
TODD: Well, hopefully, this will change things. I think you’re doing a wonderful thing here. In fact, a mutual friend, another advocate, Glendene Grant, mother of missing Jessica Foster…
GLADYS: She’s fabulous.
TODD: …great lady.
GLADYS: Glendene Grant, she’s just fabulous, and boy, she goes everywhere to look for her daughter, Jessie, and you know, I understand, I totally understand where her heart is in this.
GLADYS: Because, you know, I’m only missing a niece, she’s missing her daughter.
TODD: Well, it still hurts. It still hurts.
GLADYS: The bonds are there and you know what, we’re not going to stop looking until we find some answers.
TODD: Now, this race, now who…how can…if I wanted to do something to help you or join up with you, what are the options there? Can people from the public walk along with you?
GLADYS: Oh, anybody can join.
GLADYS: Anybody can join us. We have a route plan on our Facebook.
GLADYS: We have our route plan on our Piczo site, and we do have a…it’s a very basic route plan just going straight across Canada on the Number 1, once we get down to Calgary.
TODD: And all of this will be available on your Missing Pieces episode site and that’s permanent, so that will be there and we’ll go back and follow up after you’re through, and maybe we’ll even check in with you along the way, I’m hoping. If you have something interesting going on, email us, let us know and we’ll try to help you out along the way.
GLADYS: Yeah. That will be great. I know that in Edmonton, we’ve got a two-day venue there, because we also have the ‘Sisters In Spirit’ campaign. They do an annual family gathering for the missing and murdered women…
GLADYS: …and it just so happens to be in Edmonton this year and that’s why we’re heading up to Edmonton. And we’re also going to be meeting up with some family members from the Robert Pickton trial, who live in Edmonton, who are going to be joining us on the walk.
TODD: That’ll be great.
GLADYS: Yeah, Georgina Papins’s sisters…
GLADYS: …there are three of them and they’ll be joining us on the walk. And we also have other family members from right across the nation, who will be joining us as we progress through their territories.
TODD: Well I’m very interested to see what’s going to happen to you along the way. I know it’s going to be a really great event and you’re going to inspire a lot of people along the way…you already have. So, I’m going to let you go and let you get ready for your walk in the morning.
GLADYS: Okay. Thank you very much, Todd.
TODD: All right. It was very good talking to you. Talk to you soon.
GLADYS: All right. Bye.
~ A Letter From Gladys Radek ~
Good day all my relations,
My name is Gladys Radek. I am an advocate for the missing and murdered women, all across Canada and also a Human Rights activist. I am writing to invite you to a walk4justice in the works to address the Prime Minister, Steven Harper and Indian Affairs minister Chuck Strahl about our missing and murdered Aboriginal women, children and men. We want to demand justice and closure for our people who have lost their loved ones over the past, at least 4 decades. As you know, every single First Nations community is affected by this on going genocide by murder. Serial killers are targeting our women right across the country! The police, judicial system and all levels of government are failing to protect us as citizens of Canada. We need to gather in unity to speak out for those who can not do so. We need to gather true numbers of exactly how many are missing, murdered, raped, beaten and overall violated by this system.
At this time Amnesty International is saying over 800 Aboriginal women are missing and murdered. The majority of them are still unsolved due to the seriously flawed judicial system, police forces and social acceptance of yet another "dead indian". Here it is 2008 and the compiled list of missing and murdered women now stands over 3000 names. Mainstream society accepts this by ignoring our pleas for justice and closure. Many are not aware of what their government is doing and it is time for us to make them aware of what is going on.
An average Aboriginal woman has 5 children. Using Amnesty International's figures, this means that we lose at least 4000 children for our future generation. At this time we are only 3% of Canada's population. If we get the true numbers from the family members of these communities, it will point to an alarming rate for our population who are disappearing without any accountability for their demise.
We also want to address the children of these beautiful spirits who were taken. Do we want them to hold Canada's legacy of "system racism"? No! We want them to be raised in a compassionate society. We want them to know that they are a part of this society and that they are our future leaders.
When a child loses one parent they lose half of their income throughout their lives, thus putting them at a risk of living in an already impoverished community. Many of these children were from single parent homes and many end up in the hands of government care after they lose their mothers or fathers. These children will grow up without justice, closure or accountability. They will grow up angry and wonder why nobody cared to look for their mothers or fathers. We want them to know that we, as a society, will seek this justice, closure and accountability for them. We want them to lead healthy lifestyles so that they can become our future leaders without the legacy of "systemic racism" we are facing today.
We want to honor ALL the women, men and children and the families of the ones who have disappeared over the last, at least, four decades. We want to speak out for them and the children who were left behind to fend for themselves. We know in our hearts that "violence sees no colour".
Our demands will be very simple. We want justice, closure, equality and accountability!
Last, but not least, we want to raise funds for the children for their education. We want to guarantee the facilities for their future endeavors such as college, university, counselling, cultural awareness, treatment centers, health facilities and programs that are readily available for them to lead positive lifestyles.
If you are interested in supporting this walk for justice, could you please email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We need family members of the victims, men, women, children, singers, drummers, walkers, volunteers, fundraisers, cooks, vehicles, drivers and much much more!
The walk will be from Vancouver, BC to Ottawa, Ontario starting June 21, 2008 to September 15, 2008. Walk4justice rally confirmed by Parliment Hill through Theresa Ducharme at Sisters in Spirit, Native Womens Association of Canada.
What is really need here is Unity of the First Nations people and all members of society who are affected by these on going acts of violence.
Our hearts and prayers go out to all families who are missing their loved ones. Prayers for justice, closure, equality and accountablility!
This walk is for everyone!
Please, come and join us!
All my Relations,
Advocate for the Highway of Tears
Justice walk headed for Ottawa - Walk4Justice
(June 21, 2008 through September 12, 2008)
Written by FRANK PEEBLES
Prince George Citizen
June 3, 2008
Gladys Radek, who lost a niece to the Highway of Tears, is marching her concerns right to the prime minister's front door. She is bringing hundreds of friends with her and hopes for thousands of signatures along the way.
She launched the Walk4Justice to draw attention to all the missing and murdered women not only in the Highway of Tears file but many others besides.
The Walk4Justice begins on National Aboriginal Day June 21.
"The Highway of Tears march to Prince George and the symposium there was the kicker," Radek said. "I felt that something more needed to be done because ever since the Highway of Tears walk (March 2006) virtually nothing has happened. No new leads after four decades of missing women. The numbers of victims out there are not matching the RCMP's list. We want people to realize that these women, when they go missing, are also leaving behind children and we want those children to know that we care, as a society, what happened to their mothers and we will look after them."
Radek has been a social activist in the Vancouver area for about 15 years, although she was raised a member of the Wet'sewet'en nation in northern B.C. She is the aunt of Tamara Chipman, 22, who disappeared while hitchhiking east of Prince Rupert on Sept. 21, 2005. Chipman's young son Jaden plays a large role in Radek's activities now.
We want these women and children to have a voice," Radek said.
Radek said the march is intended to push Canadians, especially those in government, to set up safeguards against violence against women, put more mechanisms of transparency and accountability for authorities into place, and overhaul the justice system, among other goals.
"In my heart I know these women will get some justice, some closure," Radek said, but insisted that those named in the official RCMP investigation were only a fraction of the real death toll. "We are gathering names of victims through each province so we can present the truer number to the prime minister."
Radek is leading the march from Vancouver to Kamloops, to Jasper, east to Edmonton then south to Calgary and east to Parliament Hill, where they have a ceremony scheduled for Sept. 15.
"We already have over 1,000 people nationwide communicating over this," Radek said. "Since I started organizing this in January I have learned that we do have a very caring society."
Many events are already planned for along the way. Several residents of the Highway of Tears - generally located on Highway 16 between the coast and the Cariboo - will meet with the walkers on Kamloops. Radek also hopes that northern contacts might be willing to organize an associated walk along the Highway of Tears and meet up with them at Mount Robson on June 30.
Resources for this episode: