B.C. northern leaders complain they weren't invited to Highway of Tears gathering

Several high profile community leaders who have decried the lack of transit in northern B.C. say they haven't been invited to a highly anticipated meeting in Smithers, where officials are slated to discuss the link between lack of transit and missing and murdered women.

'I do have my worries about this meeting,' chief says

The B.C. Transportation ministry has organized a meeting next week to discuss transit issues in northern B.C. in connection with missing and murdered women. But several high-profile community leaders say they haven't been invited. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Several high profile community leaders who have decried the lack of transit in northern B.C. say they haven't been invited to a long-awaited meeting next week in Smithers, where officials are slated to discuss the link between poor public transit and missing and murdered women

For nearly a decade, families of missing and murdered women have called for cheap, safe public transit along the Highway of Tears.

B.C.'s ministry of transportation has organized a symposium in Smithers to talk about transit in the north. The ministry has invited several government managers in the region and staff from area First Nations groups. However, many mayors, MLAs, elected chiefs, and families of the missing women have not been invited.

And those on the guest list have been asked to make their own travel arrangements to the Smithers meeting.

"I do have my worries about this meeting," said Carrier Sekanni Tribal Chief Terry Teegee, whose cousin, Ramona Wilson, was murdered on Highway 16. He was not invited.

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice (NDP) wasn't invited either, but she wants to be there.

Leadership needed on northern transit, MLA says

Rice said Transportation Minister Todd Stone appears to have changed his mind on whether better transit is needed in the north.

"I'm looking for the MoT (Ministry of Transportation) to provide some leadership," Rice said. "He (Stone) said for the last few years that basically shuttle services or public transit was not practical and he said communities didn't want it. It's interesting he now has a change of heart. It's gone from not feasible to something he's exploring.

"But I'm not holding my breath," Rice added.

Mary Teegee of Carrier-Sekanni Family Services said she's trying to be optimistic and view the meeting as a positive step from the province.

"I'm hoping there's going to be commitment from government to do something rather than have another meeting."


 

with files from Betsy Trumpener

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