Telegraph Creek man walking from Whitehorse to Kamloops in honour of residential schoolchildren.

warriors walk picture

A Tahltan man from Telegraph Creek is currently walking from Whitehorse to Kamloops to raise awareness about residential schoolchildren.

Jamie Henyu says he initially planned to walk to Kamloops from Telegraph Creek when he was approached by Whitehorse resident Jacqueline Shorty.

She asked if she could join him and if he'd want to start his walk in Whitehorse instead, where many residential schools were once active.

The walk is titled the Warriors Walk for Healing, and it's being supported by the Northern Nations’ Alliance, a non-profit run by Shorty that provides emergency support to First Nations in Yukon and Northern B.C.

Henyu and Shorty began their walk on Saturday. They’re also joined by Lorraine Netro, a residential school survivor from the northern Yukon community of Old Crow and a former MLA for the Yukon riding of Vuntut Gwitchin.

In an interview conducted the day before the walk began, Henyu says the walk takes on even more importance now, following the discovery of 751 unmarked graves near the Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan.

"What we're doing is just bringing awareness by doing this walk,” he said. “And like I tell my nation – when I left, I said, ‘I want to bring their names up and honour them and all the kids that we're walking for.’ So this is not just a walk – it's an honour walk for them for what they've been through. The ones that the survived and the ones lost.”

The walk also has a personal element for Shorty, whose mother was a residential school survivor.

With this walk, she hopes to shift the way people think about the way people think about residential schools.

"Personally, I no longer want to be a victim of that circumstance that happened in the past. I'd rather be empowered as a personal quest to take that healing into my own hands and change that for my children."

As of this morning the team had just left Teslin, a small community on the Alaska Highway located 178 kilometres east of Whitehorse. They're currently seeking financial donations, as well as drivers who can help them out on their walk.

People are also welcome to join the team in their walk, but they must have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine before joining.