This year’s Rupert River Reverence canoe brigade started July 26 on the Route du Nord highway and is slated to conclude on August 18 in Waskaganish.
Eric Gagnon, co-president of the Rupert Reverence coalition, along with Diane Reid from Waswanipi, have been paddling along the Rupert River to raise awareness of the plight of this beautiful waterway.
The reverence brigade fears that in a very short time the Rupert will be diverted, and certain parts will be dried up forever.
Gagnon and Reid are doing their part to gather support against the damming of this river, as well as other rivers in the James Bay area.
According to Earthwild International, the Eastmain River is currently ranked second on Canada’s most endangered rivers list. The Rupert River was ranked number one on last year’s list.
John Tent, who was inspirational in guiding some of the walks and trips via canoe in the past, passed away in early August of cancer. There was a journey from Mistissini to Nemaska in his honour.
Freddy Jolly, who joined the reverence at old Nemaska, went to see John before he died and was handed a paddle and told to bring it on the Rupert Reverence. That way Mr. Tent could be with them throughout the journey, and he hoped that at the same time the Rupert River could be saved.
The reverence journey has not been without incident. Diane Ottereyes Reid from Waswanipi experienced difficulty with the rapids, and had to continue her part of the journey on foot far from the shore. This did not deter her, it only strengthened her resolve to complete her journey.
Then when she got to the Rupert River Bridge, she was informed by Freddy Jolly that one of her best friends, Ella Saganash Gunner, had committed suicide. She chose to keep going rather than attend the funeral, knowing that this is what Ella would have wanted.
Ella had told her that she would be the first to hug her when she was finished her journey on the shores of the Rupert in Waskaganish.
This can no longer happen, but Ella’s memory is one of the things that Diane will carry with her, and is going to use to finish the journey.