The RCMP has officially added the names of two more young women to the list of those who have died or disappeared along Highway 16 in northern B.C., CBC News has learned.
They are Monica Ignas from the Terrace area, who was 15 when she disappeared from the highway in December 1974, and Alberta Williams of Kitwancool, who was 27 of when she went missing in August 1989.
Both were later found murdered.
Police previously confirmed that nine young women — eight of them aboriginal — had gone missing or been murdered on the highway since 1990.
The news comes as First Nations groups issued a report Wednesday that aims to prevent more murders and disappearances along the highway, including several recommendations to try to cut down on "poverty-related travel" by young aboriginal women.
The report is the result of the Highway of Tears Symposium in Prince George earlier this year.
Its recommendations include a call for the RCMP to officially investigate whether as many as 32 people have gone missing along the 724-kilometre highway between Prince George and Prince Rupert over the years.
The report says poverty and a lack of opportunities make young aboriginal women more vulnerable, and more prone to hitchhiking.
So some of the recommendations call for:
- A new shuttle-bus transport service between communities.
- An expansion of Greyhound's "free ride" program for people who can't afford to pay.
- Police and Greyhound bus drivers to pick up any young women hitchhiking between Prince George and Prince Rupert.
- Government employees who drive the highway as part of their work to alert authorities about female hitchhikers.
The report also recommends that a network of safe houses be established.