British Columbia

Highway of Tears: 'There's a cover-up going on,' says First Nations tribal councillor

Carrier Sekani Tribal Councillor Mavis Erickson says she's never heard of the meetings the provincial government said it held with 80 First Nations leaders along Highway 16.

Premier claims documents weren't ultimately deleted as councillor calls for inquiry for missing women

These images are of 18 women and girls whose deaths and disappearances are part of the RCMP's investigation of the Highway of Tears in British Columbia. The women were either found or last seen near Highway 16 or near Highways 97 and 5. From left to right: (Top row) Aielah Saric Auger, Tamara Chipman, Nicole Hoar, Lana Derrick, Alishia Germaine, Roxanne Thiara; (Middle) Ramona Wilson, Delphine Nikal, Alberta Williams, Shelley-Anne Bascu, Maureen Mosie, Monica Jack; (Bottom row) Monica Ignas, Colleen MacMillen, Pamela Darlington, Gale Weys, Micheline Pare, Gloria Moody. (Individual photos from Highwayoftears.ca)

The B.C. Ministry of Transportation is alleged to have deleted more than a dozen e-mails about meetings with 80 First Nations leaders along the Highway of Tears, and Carrier Sekani Tribal Councillor Mavis Erickson thinks she knows why. 

"I haven't heard of those meetings at all, in any matter, shape or form," she told The Early Edition host Rick Cluff.

"I was involved when the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights came, I was also involved when the Human Rights Watch came, I was also involved when the United Nations came," she said.

"Community leaders inevitably phone me to be involved and to participate, and I didn't get any phone calls regarding any meetings."

Sekani Carrier Tribal Councillor Mavis Erickson says the alleged deletion of Highway of Tears-related e-mails amounts to a "cover-up" by the provincial government. (New Millenium Leadership and Consulting)

The BC Liberal government is facing questions over the allegations of deleted records related to the Highway of Tears after former Transportation Ministry executive assistant Tim Duncan alleged yesterday that he was told to delete e-mails requested under the Freedom of Information Act in November of 2014.

NDP MLA Jennifer Rice had filed an FOI for records regarding the infamous Highway 16 at that time.

Erickson says she finds the latest allegations troubling and will continue to push for a national inquiry into the issue.

"There's a cover-up going on and I think this just shows more of that fear that we have that things are going on and [government] wants this whole story to go away," she said.

"It's been going on for years and so the destruction of these alleged e-mails is just more of the same."

Premier responds to controversy

Speaking in Dawson Creek, Premier Christy Clark said the allegations should be investigated.

"If anyone broke the rules then they need to be held responsible," she said.

But Clark also said she believes almost all the documents in question were ultimately released.

"That information is publicly available and as I understand it, none of it was permanently deleted," she said.

At least 18 women have gone missing or been murdered along Highway 16, the route that connects Prince George and Prince Rupert in Northern B.C.

To hear the full interview, listen to the audio labelled: Highway of Tears: "there's a cover-up going on", says First Nations advocate.

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