The three walkers that departed Attawapiskat earlier this month now number 13 walkers as they leave Cochrane, Ont. on their journey to Ottawa.
The walkers, who named their journey Reclaiming Our Steps Past Present & Future, are now referred to as the Omushkegowuk walkers and have been joined by members of Kashechewan and Moose Cree First Nations. Members of Attawapiskat and Fort Albany originally began the walk.
The walkers reached Cochrane – located near Taykwa Tagamou First Nation – on Jan. 27 where they walked to city hall and were presented with gifts from the town council.
“After that, we proceeded to the (Ininew) Friendship Centre,” walker Danny Metatawabin wrote in Facebook update that day. “In the evening, they had a feast for us in our honour, and at that time as well, (we) explained to the people in attendance why we needed to sent a message to Canada and to the Provincial Governments. It was a very good day and evening.”
As of Jan. 28, the walkers are heading south down Highway 11 towards Iroquois Falls, Ont.
According to Metatawabin, they estimate they could finish the remaining 900 kilometres to Ottawa by late February.
The 13 walkers are: Metatawabin, Paul Mattinas, Brian Okimaw, Albert Iahtail, Remi Nakogee, Wayne Koostachin, Gordon Hookimaw, Edmond Etherington, River Metatawabin, Chad Friday, Jean Sutherland, Pat Etherington Jr. and Morgan Moar. Two of the walkers are teenagers, aged 14 and 18.
The walkers also gained two helpers in Pat Etherington Sr. and Frances Whiskeychan.
All three Etheringtons and Whiskeychan were helpers on Victoria Island during Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s fast last winter and had walked from Cochrane to Alberta last summer.
Metatawabin was Spence’s spokesperson during her fast and said this walk arose out of frustration following a year of no changes to First Nations issues and no follow up to the commitment signed by First Nations and federal opposition leaders last year to end the fast.
Call for support
The Omushkegowuk walkers have received moral and financial support from the Mushkegowuk communities they passed through, including feasts and honouring ceremonies. This includes the communities of Attawapiskat, Kashechewan, Fort Albany, Moosonee, Moose Cree and Taykwa Tagamou. According to Metatawabin, they have also received support from Wahgoshig First Nation.
Now as they leave their James Bay homelands, the walkers are seeking public donations for the remainder of the journey.
Donations can be deposited at any Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) branch. Transit: 05112. Account number: 1010669
The journey can be followed on their Facebook page, which receives daily updates from Metatawabin: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Reclaiming-Our-Steps-Past-Present-Future/...
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