In this six-part series, Al Jazeera tells the stories of some of the Indigenous women and girls who have gone missing or been murdered along an infamous stretch of highway in British Columbia, Canada.
Warning: The following article contains content that may be disturbing to some readers.
British Columbia, Canada – Brenda Wilson has dedicated the past 27 years of her life to supporting the families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). It is emotionally draining, but it has become her life’s purpose.
It all started when her younger sister was found dead. Ramona Wilson was Gitxsan First Nation and just 16 years old.
She went missing in Smithers, northern British Columbia, on June 11, 1994, after telling her mother that she was going out with a friend and might attend some local graduation parties that evening.
The next day, when her family discovered that she hadn’t shown up to meet her friend and her boyfriend called looking for her, they felt something was terribly wrong. They went to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), but the RCMP didn’t seem to share their concern.
“The RCMP didn’t help, I don’t recall them searching,” says Brenda, on a frigidly cold and dreary day in Prince George, the largest city in northern British Columbia.
“We put up posters and had lots of friends and family out searching,” she recalls.
But Brenda didn’t join the search. She didn’t want to find her sister’s body, she explains.
“I kept thinking she was kidnapped, held captive, she could be beaten. Was she hungry or cold? I was praying she was ok.”