Quickening the pace to a two-year-old movement to promote non-violence, George Diamond recently led another major walk to condemn violence in any form and raise awareness about the issue throughout Eeyou Istchee.
From October 16-19, Diamond joined seven others on an 84-kilometre walk in the name of stopping violence.
“The walk went really, really well!” said Diamond, a Planning, Program and Research Officer for the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay. “We had about seven walkers but that varied from day to day. This walk wasn’t about us individually or even as a group; the walk was always about the goal, to promote non-violence.”
Walking from kilometre 90 on the Chisasibi highway, Diamond and the others engaged in this journey not just to raise awareness but also to promote Cree traditional values. Prior to engaging in this process, Diamond said he consulted the Elders’ Council and it was their recommendation to promote the idea of non-violence instead of just concentrating on violence against women. The idea then evolved into targeting violence in every form including: physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, spiritual, cultural and verbal abuse as well as neglect
“This is something that touches just about everyone’s life, from children to Elders,” said Diamond.
The first Maamuu Utihamaataau walk took place in 2014 to the AGA in Wemindji. Diamond decided to work on a new one this year for his home community of Chisasibi.
“We know that there are a lot of people who don’t report their assaults or what is happening to them because the statistics that we have show that for one case that is reported there are another 10 incidents that don’t get reported,” said Diamond. “We want to help people by asking them if they are being abused or are living in that kind of an environment because there is some help that is available to them.”
Diamond said the CBHSSJB has social workers who can help victims by listening and providing information kits on the many forms of behaviours and abuses that can classified as violent. He also suggested that there are always Elders in every community who can be of support to those who are in need and want to talk.
“The other thing that we want to say to people is that we should not normalize violence in Eeyou Istchee. We don’t want people thinking that is okay. Violence is a learned behaviour and so therefore it is something that can be unlearned. It is time to promote non-violence through education, events and activities,” said Diamond.
Diamond said that his goal with this walk was to acknowledge the pain and suffering of those who have suffered through violence. In the long term his goal is to see committees formed to combat violence in all Cree communities.
While walking, Diamond said he and the other walkers carried out their mission with their own personal declaration against violence in their hearts.
“I want a good life for myself, my family, my community and my Cree Nation,” he said. “And I will encourage and show what it is like to live life by our Cree family values such as respect, love, hope, harmony, wisdom, courage, truth, honesty, humility, sharing, kindness, kinship, faith, obedience, happiness, safety, patience, good child rearing and thankfulness.”