Totem pole raised on B.C.'s Highway of Tears to honour missing, murdered Indigenous women

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A memorial totem polehonouring murdered and missing Indigenous womenwas raised outside Terrace, B.C., along the infamous Highway of Tears.

The raising will mark the end of a long journey for Gladys Radek, who for nearly a decade held an annual 350-kilometre walk along the highway to bring attention to those who have been lost.

A small delegationof familymembers and First Nation representatives gathered for the raising, taking place at a highway pullout in Kitsumkalum Tsimishian territory. Carver Mike Dangeli said he hopes the totem pole provides a sense of healing.

"Many of the families ... have no sense of real closure," he said. "So we're hoping that this becomes a space where it's a commemoration, it's a memorial."

Dangeli worked with his father and brother at the family's Terrace backyard to create the 7.3 metre pole. The totem pole has layers of meaning.

The main figure is of a young woman in face paint and red dress. At the top is a matriarch figure and at the base, bearing the weight of the totem, is an orca to recognize the pole will be on Kitsumkalum Orca Clan territory.

"It is a watch person in the metaphorical sense that our ancestors and our people will watch out and create a safe and sacred space,"Dangneli said. "We're hoping the whole highway becomes a safe and sacred space."

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