British Columbia

B.C. Highway of Tears investigated by global rights group

Human Rights Watch is now investigating the high number of unsolved cases of missing and killed women in B.C. It says the province has the highest rate of unsolved deaths of indigenous women in Canada.

Province said to have highest rate of unsolved murders of indigenous women in Canada

An international human rights watchdog is now investigating the high number of unsolved cases of missing and slain women in B.C.

Human Rights Watch researchers typically probe abuse, torture and extra-judicial killings in places like Syria and Afghanistan. Now the organization has set its sights on Northern B.C.

Researcher Meghan Rhoad says the group is very concerned by the sheer volume of atrocities against aboriginal women in B.C. — which has the highest rate of unsolved homicides of indigenous women and girls in the country.

Molly Dixon holds a photo of her daughter Angeline Pete, who has been missing since May. An aboriginal women's group has documented about 100 cases of homicide against indigenous women in B.C., half of which remain unsolved. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

"The alarming data on violence against indigenous women and girls has been coming out. The Native Women's Association of Canada has documented 582 cases of missing and murdered women across Canada. Then in B.C. in particular they have documented 160 cases."

Rhoad has spent several months speaking with women across Northern B.C., including several weeks travelling the so-called Highway of Tears.

"I was struck by just how pervasive the insecurity is in the north and just how many women and girls' lives have been touched by violence, you know in one form or another, and how many families have been affected," she said.

On Thursday, Wally Oppal delivered his Missing Women's Commission report to the B.C. government. It will be made public in mid-December.

Rhoad said Human Rights Watch plans to release its report into B.C.'s missing and killed women in 2013.