“These murder cases expose systemic problems... By examining each murder within the context of Indigenous identity and regional hardships, McDiarmid addresses these very issues, finding reasons to look for the deeper roots of each act of violence.” —The New York Times Book Review
In the vein of the bestsellers I’ll Be Gone in the Dark and The Line Becomes a River, a penetrating, deeply moving account of the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls of Highway 16, and a searing indictment of the society that failed them.
For decades, Indigenous women and girls have gone missing or been found murdered along an isolated stretch of highway in northwestern British Columbia. The corridor is known as the Highway of Tears, and it has come to symbolize a national crisis.
Journalist Jessica McDiarmid meticulously investigates the devastating effect these tragedies have had on the families of the victims and their communities, and how systemic racism and indifference have created a climate in which Indigenous women and girls are overpoliced yet underprotected. McDiarmid interviews those closest to the victims—mothers and fathers, siblings and friends—and provides an intimate firsthand account of their loss and unflagging fight for justice. Examining the historically fraught social and cultural tensions between settlers and Indigenous peoples in the region, McDiarmid links these cases to others across Canada—now estimated to number up to four thousand—contextualizing them within a broader examination of the undervaluing of Indigenous lives in the country.
Highway of Tears is a piercing exploration of our ongoing failure to provide justice for the victims and a testament to their families’ and communities’ unwavering determination to find it.
Jessica McDiarmid is a Canadian journalist who has reported on human rights and social justice from around the world. She grew up near the Highway of Tears and has been investigating the murders for the past five years. This is her first book.
Why We Love It
“An illuminating, if harrowing, depiction of what happens when law enforcement turns a blind eye to people who are marginalized, oft-forgotten, and how the engagement and attention of key people within their ranks and in the press decide that ignorance is no longer a viable or acceptable option…necessary reading for people who have watched True Detective, The Bridge, or Top of the Lake.” —Rakesh S., Senior Editor, on Highway of Tears
“Powerful . . . [McDiarmid], writing with deeply felt emotion, makes it abundantly clear that this racism persists today [and] brings to light a little-known story that deserves more attention.” —Kirkus Reviews
“This moving, well-sourced book is essential reading for anyone who cares about social injustice.” —Publishers Weekly
"McDiarmid's touching, poignant account intricately details the backgrounds of many of the victims, and their families and loved ones. She deftly explains the continuous circle of blatant racism, depression, hopelessness, poverty, and addiction faced by the women, brought on by lack of opportunity and, frankly, by the lack of care from the government." —Booklist
“These murder cases expose systemic problems . . . By examining each murder within the context of Indigenous identity and regional hardships, McDiarmid addresses these very issues, finding reasons to look for the deeper roots of each act of violence.” —New York Times Book Review
“A searing account of how systemic racism robbed these victims of justice and continues to endanger Indigenous women and girls in Canada.” —Paste