Journey of Nishiyuu
(Nishiyuu is Cree for human beings. In nearly all aboriginal languages they refer to themselves as human beings or the people )
A wonderful journey
of 1600 km has just been completed by a small ground of Cree youth from Northern Quebec to our Nation's Capital, Ottawa. They have my admiration. Here is the map
It began as an idea in the mind of 16 year old David Kawapit who was inspired by the Idle No More
protests begun last year. In particular he admired the hunger strike protest of Chief Spence from the Appawapiskat
It was a small band of six youth and a spiritual advisor/guide which set out from the Cree community of Whapagoostui
at the Mouth of the Great Whale River. It has a sister community of Inuit on the other shore of this river, Kuujjaaraapik
First Nation. These are remote communities with no road access. The first leg in the travel will was to Chisasibi
First Nation about 200 km to the south. The journey began in mid January when the temperatures in that part of Canada are regularly -30C and often as cold as -50C . The group was to travel on snowshoes, dragging toboggans with all their gear including tents they would sleep in along the way when they were beyond the hospitality of other First Nations along they way as they passed through the historic territories of the Cree, the Anishinaabi, Algonquins, Mohawks and others. This was a spiritual and political journey. Only an aboriginal group with a close and spiritual tie to the land would confidently start out on such a potentially dangerous trek. It would require the wisdom of Elders, before they left and drawing on the age old skills and technology that one needed to survive. This was an historic route that would link First Nations Communities.. Along the way others would join in so that when they reached Ottawa there would be many times their numbers. It was thousands of aboriginal and non aboriginal people what filled the streets of Ottawa and traveled up to the front of the parliament buildings. These young people wanted the politicians and all of Canada to know that the Idle No More movement was not over. First Nation's people have grievances of long standing and they want the Conservative Government of Stephen Harper, which has recently passed legislation that affected First Nation's people negatively, (compounding the problems) know they wanted to be heard followed by some positive action.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper chose not to be present to greet this group. He was at Trenton Military Base in Ontario welcoming two panda bears from China. It seems a couple of relatives of the raccoon family were more important than First Nation's youth and their concerns. Aboriginal struggles include having treaties honoured, services adequately delivered, respect for the contribution of the First Nation's people and fully recognizing their unique constitutionally guaranteed place in Canada.
Setting out for Ottawa
Canada being such a vast country treks of one kind or another across the country go on every years usually in the summer. I live not far from the Trans Canada Highway so there are may sightings each year of people walking, running, cycling, horseback riding etc across the country as a personal challenge for some and/or to raise funds for a charity. I also live close to the historic main fur trade route so there are frequent canoe trips across Canada in one direction or the other. reliving the voyageur adventure. Two of the many wonderful canoe trips I have always admired are about. Eric Sevareid
(the journalist) on graduating from high school , in 1930, canoed from Minnesota to Hudson's Bay and the trip about two fellows canoed from New York City to Nome
Alaska over two summers. These and countless others are all great adventures and fun to follow along.
Historically there have been many great treks across parts of Canada. I have been fascinated by many of these. It always dismay be who people say Canadian history is boring. If you cared to read about the travels of many early Canadians it is anything but boring. Many adventurers, trappers, surveyors and others have set out to travel on the land of excitement or profit, Some paid with their life. Many kept diaries and maps we can enjoy today. One of these I admired the most is Samuel Hearne.
He traveled a lot in the Barren Lands. He was the first European to travel overland to the Arctic. His diaries are a wonderful read. These travels were very challenging and strenuous treks that few would even consider today. I believe it was Hearne who spend the Summer and Fall one years doing a 3000 mile circuit around the eastern Barren Lands reaching Thompson Manitoba as Winter was setting in. Not wanting to be trapped at Thompson for the who Winter he set out in January alone to snowshoe to Fort Chippewa, 1000 miles away. He carried little counting on feeding and sheltering himself off the land along the way. He apparently thought little of doing this. Today if someone was to attempt it he could be considered to be foolish. It was his trip that I remembered when I learned of the Cree youth from Whapagoostui..First Nation.