'Unity Walk' reaches destination on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

A 1000-kilometre walk ended outside the Manitoba Legislative Building on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Members of Fox Lake Cree Nation left Gillam, Man. on Sept. 18 and were joined by members of York Factory First Nation and Tataskewyak Cree Nation along the way.

The orange shirt-clad group’s “Unity Walk” honoured residential school survivors while calling for increased addiction and healing support in northern Manitoba.

In a statement, Fox Lake Cree Nation Chief Beardy said supports and funding have been concentrated in southern Manitoba for too long.

“Survivors and their families suffering from the intergenerational effects of the residential school system should not have to again be taken away from their community and culture to get the treatment they need,” Beardy’s statement concluded.

AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas joined the group for part of the journey and said it was a momentous day. He told CTV News seeing so many peoples of people standing together in solidarity was inspiring.

“It’s an opportunity for all of us to move forward in a good way,” Dumas said.

Dumas said the federal government’s decision to recognize Sept. 30 as a holiday was a good move but believes it should have been designated as a statutory holiday.

“I do appreciate the effort, however, there’s a lot of work we need to continue to do,” Dumas said.

Dumas said ongoing awareness and further education about the atrocities faced by First Nations people is crucial.

“Asking questions, finding out the truth, and realizing how the relationship with First Nations and the rest of this country has been an abusive one,” Dumas said. “We still have systemic issues that are plaguing all of us – that awareness will hopefully facilitate and make the change that needs to happen.”