Audrey and Kyla Auger have crossed a major milestone in their 760 km healing walk from Prince George to the Gift Lake Metis Settlement in Alberta.
The mother and daughter arrived in Spirit River, Alta. Wednesday evening, after travelling over 500 km from their starting point on Highway 16 East, near the Tabor Mountain turnoff.
They started their walk on Aug. 15, at the place where 14-year-old Aielah Saric-Auger’s body was found in February, 2006. Saric-Auger was Audrey’s daughter and Kyla’s little sister, and is the most recent young woman to go missing or be murdered along the Highway of Tears.’
Their walk will end at Saric-Auger’s grave site, in Audrey’s home community.
“It’s been very draining emotionally, physically and spiritually,” Audrey said. “I lean on my spirituality to get through. My main focus is finding myself out on the highway.”
Audrey said they hope to raise awareness about all 11 unsolved missing and murdered women along Highway 16 during their walk.
During their walk they travelled through Prince George, up Highway 97 to Dawson Creek, then on to Spirit River across the border.
Although the journey is two-thirds done and the most challenging terrain is behind them, Audrey said the hardest kilometres are still ahead of them.
“As we get closer to where my daughter is buried… every step is more difficult than when I first started,” she said.
Funding for the walk has been a challenge since the beginning, but has become worse across the border.
“Not many people are aware of the Highway of Tears in Alberta. The support died down as we came out of B.C.,” she said. “We’re on a really tight budget. [But] we’re hoping for the best.”
The Augers intended to start on Aug. 1, but were delayed by a lack of funding and support car drivers.
Throughout the walk they have camped and stayed at women’s shelters to keep costs down, she said.
Donations to the walk can be made though Communities Against the Sexual Exploitation of Youth (CASEY).
For more information, or to make a donation, contact Karen Clayton at 250-564-4422 or stop by the Central Interior Native Health Clinic at 1110 Fourth Ave., Prince George.
All donations not used during the walk will be put towards the hosting costs for a second Highway of Tears symposium.