It's been the most gruelling Tears 4 Justice walk so far, says Gladys Radek — and she's been on plenty.
Radek and several other demonstrators left Sydney, N.S., in late June for a cross-country march ending in Prince Rupert on Sept. 20.
The final destination was the hometown of Radek's niece, Tamara Chipman, who went missing along the Highway of Tears on Sept. 21, 2005.
Their goal is to bring attention to the plight of marginalized Canadian women who live in poverty, violence, exploitation and disregard by authorities and officials.
Nine walkers and one dog came through Kamloops on Thursday, greeted at the City limits by a rural RCMP member and led into the Tk'emlups powwow grounds.
The group arrived in need of rest and emotional support, which was eagerly provided by locals like Glendene Grant, whose daughter went missing in Las Vegas more than seven years ago.
"Gladys is like my sister," said Grant.
It's the sixth time over the past several years that Radek has launched such a walk, and this one has been the most challenging so far, she said.
"I'm a little overwhelmed that we finally made it into B.C." said Radek from alongside Highway 5 on Thursday. "It's been a long treacherous journey. It's been by far the most difficult emotionally, physically and spiritually."
Radek is demanding a national public inquiry into the murders and disappearances of women across the Highway of Tears and all of Canada.
That focus causes victims' family members to gravitate towards the walkers when they enter towns, which can become overwhelming.
"We had a few walkers who had to turn back because they couldn't handle it physically, emotionally and spiritually. It was too much for them because we're hearing stories directly from the families," said Radek.
That was just one of the trials they faced along the way, said Radek.
Another walker had to turn back after learning that his son had been murdered in his hometown of Hobbema, Alta.
But another participant persisted despite having an iPad stolen that contained the video statements of victims and family members along the way and having a sister in serious condition in hospital back home after being hit by a semi-trailer truck.
"These walkers that have made it to the B.C. border are the grassroots leaders of the future generation," said Radek.
They may still have a long way to go to reach their goal, however.
Although eight out of 10 Canadian provincial premiers have supported the call for a national public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in May that he's "skeptical" it would provide answers.
"There's going to be a lot more women that'll be dying, violated and victims of violence until he's out of there because he just doesn't care," said Radek.
The group intends to reach 100 Mile House on Sept. 2, Prince George on Sept. 8, Burns Lake on Sept. 12, Smithers on Sept. 15, Terrace on Sept. 19 and Prince Rupert on Sept. 20.