A sign along the Highway of Tears shows the face of a woman who went missing from the Enderby area five years ago.
Deanna Wertz, who was 46, was last seen near Yankee Flats Road on July 19, 2016. Now her face, along with many others, lines a stretch of Highway 16 between Terrace and Prince Rupert for the Tears to Hope relay.
“When you pass by a picture of the MMIWG (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls) and men, take time to pray for their families, lift them up and let them know that they are not alone and we care,” Birgitte Bartlett wrote in a social media post on June 22.
“Together we can turn the Highway from tears to hope.”
Wertz’s younger brother Dale said he’s certain she was the victim of foul play and he’d like to see more government and police resources and investigators on the job.
Wertz was one of four women that went missing from the Shuswap and North Okanagan around that time. This year marked the fifth anniversary of the disappearance of Caitlin Potts, Ashley Simpson, Wertz and the fourth for Nicole Bell.
Eighteen-year-old Traci Genereaux, of Vernon, was once included in the group, but the remains of her body were found on a farm near Silver Creek owned by the Sagmoen family in October 2017. No charges have been laid
Curtis Sagmoen is now facing a charge of assaulting a police office and a four-day trial is slated to begin March 1, 2022.
Sagmoen’s court dates consistently draw a crowd of protesters demanding justice for murdered and missing women.
Dale expressed appreciation for the work of other families of missing women and the First Nations women and others who protest regularly.
“They’re doing more than I could ever asked for,” he said with emotion.
– with Martha Wickett files