Yesterday, a group of Canadian Aboriginal people arrived in Ottawa, the capital. On foot.
It was the completion on a 1500+ kilometre journey that started in January, when six youths and a guide left Whapmagoostui, on James Bay in Northern Quebec, in the dead of the -40 degree northern winter, as a show of support for the Idle No More Aboriginal rights movement.
By the time the Nishiyuu (“people” in Cree) reached Ottawa, their numbers had swelled to a few hundred. Other people joined them along the way, and many in Ottawa came out to see and support them as they assembled on Parliament Hill
And what do the Nishiyuu want?
According to Rabble.ca
All First Nations people are demanding, today, is respect for their rights as peoples.
If Canada wants to pursue massive resource exploitation, conceived and executed in haste—maybe not such a great idea for a lot of reasons— it should not have the right to run roughshod over the rights of the people who occupy the lands where the resources are found.
Too often, in the past, the Aboriginal peoples have been treated as an inconvenience by both provincial and federal governments and by mining, forestry and transport companies.
Canada’s Prime Minister chose not to meet the Nishiyuu in Ottawa, attending instead the arrival of some giant pandas on loan from China to the Toronto Zoo. But the Leader of the Opposition, and several other federal and Aboriginal leaders were on hand to greet the walkers.
David Kawapit, one of the original seven, told reporters in Cree that he was humbled by the size and enthusiasm of the crowd. “There’s no words to describe how I feel, the tremendous pride that I feel, the happiness, but also the emotion I can’t describe. This is not the end, this will continue. But it started with a walk.”
Here is their manifesto, from the group’s ~35,000 member Facebook group:
The Quest of Wisjinichu-Nishiyuu, Quest For Unity
6 Youth under the age of 20 with two guides wish to walk to Ottawa and arrive in Parliament Hill. This is a strong message 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.
This Quest-Journey will establish and unite our historical allies and restore our traditional trade routes with the Algonquin, Mohawk and other First Nations. The time for Unity is now.
Through Unity and Harmony, the quest will revive the voices of our “Anskushiyouch”. Their voices will be heard once more. With their guidance and strength, the Truth to all the sacred teachings will be revived and we will become once more, a powerful United Nations across Turtle Island.
The warriors have awaken and will rise:
The Cree people have always been fierce warriors; they have always been the gatekeepers of the North. They have had many battles and disputes over the territory, and to this day we have never surrendered our land to no nation, not now, not ever.
This land, the earth, the rivers, the winds, the mountains, the clouds and all of the creation, we are the true keepers and will continue to do so until time on earth is over. This Quest, it is time the Youth become the Warriors and the leaders for they are the “Anskushshiyouch” as foretold. The Earth Walkers, the beings put here on earth to protect all of Chisamanitou’s Creation. In unity, in harmony, in peace, in war, we will achieve.
Stanley George Jr, Johnny Abraham, David Kawapit, Raymond Kawapit, Geordie Rupert, Travis George , Isaac Kawapit (Guide)
Thank you to Osocio supporter Susanne Ure for generously allowing us to use her photos of the event.