Khayden Otter-Rupert marked the beginning of his triumphant return to Eeyou Istchee with a smile.

Khayden and his grandfather Ronnie Otter began a tour of Eeyou Istchee Sept. 4 with a whirlwind stop in Whapmagoostui. Khayden took a tour of the community in the fire truck, visited the band office and had lunch with the Chief.

“He’s very energetic and inspired when he sees people, he’s very determined to show them he can walk,” said Ronnie.

Khayden paid similar visits to Chisasibi, Wemindji, Nemaska and Waskaganish in the following days. Unfortunately, the people in Eastmain didn’t get a chance to see their hero due to two funerals in their community

Despite that sad news, spirits were high in the Otter camp. “The trip has made a lot of people happy. When the doctors were saying that he might not make it, a lot of people said that doctors can be wrong and not to forget the power of prayer,” said his beaming grandfather.

“You can have money in your pocket and it can be gone tomorrow, but love and prayer are something you never lose. It’ll always be there,” he said.

After a couple days rest, Khayden and his entourage moved on to Mistissini Sept. 14. He received a hero’s welcome and he loved every minute of it.

“The elders said that when they heard that Khayden was on this trip they really wanted to see him after hearing and reading about what he went through,” said Ronnie. “It’s almost like Khayden’s been leading me to tell these people about what happened to him.”

The duo also spoke to the kids at school about the effects drugs and alcohol have on people. Because this tragic accident allegedly happened due to alcohol abuse, Ronnie wanted to make sure that the children could see and hear about its negative effects.

At press time, Ronnie was scheduled to get back to Waswanipi where Khayden would be the guest of honour at the opening game for the midget AAA Waswanipi Eenouch hockey team.

They are set to wrap up their tour a few days later in Ouje-Bougoumou.

Ronnie wanted everyone in Eeyou Istchee to have the chance to see Khayden and his progress first hand. “People were saying that they wanted to see him,” he said. “By going to each community we’re showing our appreciation for their prayers and support. Seeing Khayden walk gave a lot of people hope and inspiration.”