Inuit org praises Nishiyuu Walkers’ trek to Ottawa
"They should be tremendously proud of what they have accomplished”
When the Nishiyuu Walkers ended their 1,600 trek from Whapmagoostui at Parliament Hill in Ottawa on March 25, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association joined in with other aboriginal groups from across Canada to celebrate their success.
On Jan. 16 seven youth from 17 to 21 years left their home community of Whapmagoostui — and its twin Inuit community of Kuujuaraapik — on Hudson Bay to start a journey that would take 1,600 kilometres to complete.
Called Journey of Nishiyuu, which means “The Journey of the People” in Cree, the hunger strike of Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat and the protest movement Idle No More inspired their walk.
That came to an end with a huge rally in Ottawa, with that original group of seven having swelled to nearly 300 people, said the QIA in a March 25 news release.
“The updates about the journey posted on Facebook and the pride from across Canada and beyond were a build-up of inspiration and awe,” said QIA president Okalik Eegeesiak.
“They are deeply dedicated youth and I admire their strength and conviction that has kept them going during the past two months. They should be tremendously proud of what they have accomplished.”
The message of the journey: “to prove to other First Nations across Canada that the Cree Nation of Quebec are not sellouts, but keepers of the language, culture, tradition and more importantly; today, we still carry the sacred laws of our ancestors.”
“The time for unity is now,” says the walkers’ mission statement.
The trek was as much a spiritual journey as it was about raising awareness, the QIA said.
The participants learned navigation, survival and leadership skills, they learned to overcome substance abuse issues and personal loss, and, they supported the Idle No More movement and that it is time for all aboriginal people to stand united with Canada, the QIA said.