Nishiyuu Walkers

Nishiyuu Walkers were greeted by thousands of supporters on Parliament Hill on March 25. – Photo by Jody Kechego

UOI OFFICES  – On behalf of the Anishinabek Nation, Grand Council Chief Patrick Wedaseh Madahbee congratulated the Nishiyuu Walkers on their safe arrival in Ottawa March 25 after a 1,600km trek.

“It is with great pride that I acknowledge these incredible young people to our territory and on behalf of the Anishinabek Nation I say Chi-Miigwetch for your dedication, determination and unified spirit,” said the Grand Council Chief. “This sort of strength shows Canada that First Nations are a force to be reckoned with.”

The “Journey of the Nishiyuu” – which translates into Cree as “The Journey of the People” – began in mid-January in the remote village of Whapmagoostui, Que., located on the shores of the Hudson Bay. The original seven-person group picked up hundreds of supporters along the way, many of whom marched into the capital with them. Organizers say around 270 walkers finished the journey to Ottawa.

“I couldn’t imagine the struggles they overcame to walk that far under those conditions,” said Madahbee. “Their message was simple – to create unity amongst First Nations people.

“We owe a great deal of gratitude to these young people who have inspired us with their determination, while we face a government that simply refuses to consult with First Nations people on ways we can work together to make the future better for everyone in Canada. As I understand it, the Prime Minister was invited to greet the walkers just outside his office on Parliament Hill, but he chose to spend taxpayers’ money to fly to Toronto and have his picture taken with Panda bears from China.”

Madahbee continued to challenge Prime Minister Harper on his lack of commitment to resolving First Nations issues.

“He wouldn’t meet with our leaders after Chief Spence risked her life in a hunger strike and he won’t meet with our youth after they walked 1,600kms in the spirit of unity. Sooner or later Stephen Harper will understand that First Nations people will not stop when it comes to fighting for recognition of our rights.

“This government always claims it’s doing more for First Nations than any other government, but in reality they’ve done more harm than good. Our dedicated young people like the Nishiyuu Walkers are doing more for our people than any government.”