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Young Cree walkers greeted by crowds after 1,600 kilometer trek to Canada's capital

‘Journey of the People’ ends with crowds cheering aboriginal youth on Parliament Hill


Last updated 5/25/2013 at 10:20am

Round House Talk News

After an almost three-month trek, Cree walkers arrived on Parliament Hill on March 25. “It feels really good, but at the same time I’m really sad that it’s ending,” David Kawapit, 18, one of the original seven walkers said. “A lot of us shared good times here, sad times, but we all stuck together.”

Six youths and a guide left Whapmagoostui in January to snowshoe and walk to Ottawa in support of the Idle No More movement. They called the trek “The Journey of Nishiyuu,” which means “The Journey of the People” in Cree. They arrived on Parliament Hill on March 24.

The cross-country walkers traveled through many different terrains and all kinds of weather to reach their goal. “It shows that they’re really proud of their land and...they really want to protect the land— so walking—the journey was really a commitment for them strong,” Chief Theresa Spence said.

The group numbered nearly 400 in the trek’s final hours, according to volunteers and Gatineau police, after other children and youth from Cree and Algonquin communities joined them along the way. Thousands more people joined them on Monday afternoon at Parliament Hill as their journey came to an end.

The group’s wish to meet with the prime minister was not met, as Stephen Harper was in Toronto for a special ceremony to greet two Chinese pandas en route to the Toronto Zoo.

But Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt did meet with a small group of the original walkers late in the day. No cameras were allowed at the meeting, but the minister was said to have accepted an invitation to visit their First Nation this summer and learn more about their concerns.


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