Two-month 'Journey of Nishiyuu' nears end for Cree youth and supporters
Part of the 'Journey of Nishiyuu' Cree team members near the James Bay highway. (Facebook)
Julianna Cummins, CTVNews.ca
Published Saturday, March 23, 2013 7:38AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, March 23, 2013 9:51AM EDT
Nearly two months ago, six youths and a guide set out from their Cree nation home of Whapmagoostui, Que. in the James Bay area, with the intention of walking all the way to Parliament Hill.
The group is now on schedule to reach Ottawa on Monday- and they have picked up hundreds of supporters during their approximately 1,600 kilometre journey that started back on Jan. 16.
"My feet are killing me, but I'm still going," said Jordan Masty, 20, who joined the original seven walkers in Wemindji, Que. on Feb. 3 and was still walking as of Friday afternoon.
"I'm not 100 per cent, but I'll go where I want to go."
The walk has been deemed 'The Journey of Nishiyuu,' which means 'The Journey of the People' in the Cree language. The walk was initially inspired by Chief Theresa Spence's Idle No More movement, said Masty, but it also wants to send a strong message to Ottawa about the unity among the Cree and other First Nations people.
"If we are going to speak as the official voice of the Earth, then we have to work together in harmony," Masty said.
The group also aims to show other First Nations and Ottawa the dedication the Cree Nation of Quebec has to preserving their language, culture, traditions and the sacred laws of their ancestors, according to a website dedicated to The Journey of Nishiyuu walk.
Masty's mother, Jean, said she looks at 'The Journey of Nishiyuu's Facebook page every day to see how the group is doing. The Facebook group dedicated to the walk tracks the progress of participants with photos, videos and written messages. The group had over 32,000 fans as of early Friday evening.
"The more I look at it, the more I know that the people all over the world are coming together," said Jean, who is also a member of the band council of Whapmagoostui.
During their long trek, the group has stayed in makeshift camps, and in the towns they encounter during their journey.
Earlier this week, the group stopped in Algonquin reserve of Kitigan Zibi. Around 25 to 30 people were treated at the local medical centre for injuries incurred during the walk, said Kitigan Zibi Chief Gilbert Whiteduck.
Some of the walkers with more serious injuries were sent to a nearby hospital, while others were told they should stop the journey altogether.
"All the people who joined along the way - they are not accustomed to walking those kinds of distances," Whiteduck said.
Still, the group remained passionate about their cause, Whiteduck said.
"There is that sense of nationhood as family...and I can see many of the young people are feeling good about it."
A welcoming ceremony is planned for the group when they get to Ottawa, according to a Facebook page dedicated to providing details about the group's arrival.
The group will then go on to give a presentation on Parliament Hill, and plan to hold a press conference for media.