You can't help but shudder at the sinister nickname for British Columbia's provincial Autoroute 16, known as "The Highway of Tears," which is both a trucking passage and the winding graveyard of up to 42 Aboriginal women—most of whom are assumed murdered by a series of serial killers. In fact, the RCMP, Canada's famous Mounties and the chief police force investigating the murders believe there are active serial killers currently operating along the highway. The RCMP puts the official number of women who have been murdered along the highway at 18.
Running west to east through some of the most remote terrain in North America, passing by desolate First Nations reserves and logging towns, the highway has become synonymous with the endemic violence towards Indigenous women in Canada: they're five times more likely than any other ethnicity in the country to be raped or murdered. It really wasn't until a white tree planter was murdered and discovered on the highway in 2002 that the RCMP finally launched a full-scale investigation. The taskforce, called EPANA, has had its funding cut several times in the last few years, and no one is sure what they are doing now. Ray Michalko, a former RCMP member who quit the force, is now one of the only men on the job as a private investigator. He works directly with the families of missing or murdered Indigenous women on his own dime. He takes VICE on a tour of, basically, Canada's Valley of Death and connects us with the families who have turned to him after sometimes decades of stalled police investigations.