I am sitting in a warm cabin just beside Pikauba River, in the land of Innu. Words cannot describe how these past few days have been. We have trekked many miles and have seen the breadth of the land from Mistissini to here.
We may have tasted possibly all seasons since our departure. From November rain, mild spring weather, winter’s bone chill to harsh smells in the camper, eek! I’ve already told the walkers that I already miss them. Rebecca and Travis Blacksmith (our driver and cooks) have participated in cultural expeditions before and explained that people create a strong bond when travelling together for weeks at a time.
What I was feeling was advance separation anxiety. I take it all in. I savour every story and bout of laughter. Johnny Coonishish and I trekked big hills and through it all I was laughing. At times, his heartfelt stories made my heart understand the art of human connection. Everyone has a story and I’ve learned to listen to each word and never to think of your answer while someone shares a story. Listening is an art!
This #standagainsturanium walk has been an incredible experience. I was to walk only for a few days but discovered a couple hours after we set off that I couldn’t stop now, that I must go and bring the important message that the Eeyouch do not want uranium mining and development within Eeyou Istchee.
I speak for most of the walkers when I say that the message is simple: “We do not want our waters and land to be contaminated.” Many of us know that water gives life and is essential to live. A good communication strategist friend of mine told me that people don’t care about cultures and how people live but one thing they will care about is water – we all want good drinking water! I learned about this in the media. Whenever I mentioned not wanting our waters to be contaminated most of them connected with me. I like an outsider’s perspective!
Every day I have wonderful and incredible revelations. Our Elders have told me a few times that spending time out on the land clears your mind and replenishes your thoughts. I must say that this method does the mind and body good.
I have to commend our #standagainsturanium walkers. They are heroes in my book. They are: our young Elder Clifford “Waptum” Jolly, Jessie Mettaweskum, Daisy Wapachee, Marilee Neeposh, Kay Lynn Nayassit, Darren Loon, Johnny, Willie and William Coonishish, Nicholas Wapachee and our dears who joined along the way, Eva Ottawa, and our French garçons Fred and Emmanuel from Montreal. A shout-out to Amy Linton for all help and for firing up this walk! To the great communications team: Christian and Arielle! It was teamwork and mutual respect that has kept us going this far. Our daily morning prayer surely had everything to do with it.
It is my prayer that when I present to the BAPE hearings at Montreal along with our walkers that they will know that our waters and land are sacred and that this walk is for our people and for future generations.
I’m the fire keeper tonight so I’ll sign off now and keep the fire burning!