Dr. Dawg

This post isn't about pandas

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Harper refuses a handshake.JPG

It’s about the other guy, and his warped priorities. And most of all it’s about bravery, and sacrifice, and unquenchable determination.

Today a brave group of seven young people and a guide have ended a long trek from their home in Whapmagoostui, Quebec to Parliament Hill, accompanied by hundreds who joined the march along the route, and greeted by a crowd of waiting supporters. The young folks are known as the Nishiyuu Walkers.

“The first part of the walk was the hardest,” said Geordie Rupert, 21, who started the walk with Kawapit. “It was so cold. We’d leave with the sun and wouldn’t stop walking until sundown. Our tears froze to our faces.”

Rupert spent a lot of time at the beginning of the journey in tears. Only seven months earlier, he had lost his 10-month-old son, Rolan.

But while he used to cry when he thought of his young boy, he said he has come to accept the death through the healing steps of his journey.

“Now I feel like he’s walking with me,” said Rupert. “I see him running around at my feet and, as I start my day, I say, ‘Let’s go, my son.’

Their long journey is the Cree version of what the Māori call a hikoi: a lengthy on-foot journey of protest meant to build solidarity and demonstrate the plight of their people to the wider society in which they live.

The Prime Minister will not be available to greet them. After he was frog-marched into a meeting with First Nations leaders in January, there has been no follow-up, to no one’s surprise. AFN Grand Chief Shawn Atleo, speaking of the heavy-handed workfare measures in last week’s federal budget, notes that it’s the same paternalistic business as usual from the Conservative government—there was no prior consultation, and, as reported by the Globe & Mail’s Gloria Galloway, the government has set aside “more money - $132-million - to counselling and compliance than for the training itself.”

All good politics, founded upon the deep-seated racism that infects Canadian society. Yet well-wishers greeted the marchers all along the way with food, shelter and support.

No doubt the haters will focus on the differing estimates of the distance the young people walked—variously reported as 1100 kilometres, 1300 kilometres and now 1600 kilometres. Remember how the question of whether Theresa Spence’s fish broth invalidated her fast became the story the Media Party ran with, instead of the reasons she undertook the fast in the first place? And no doubt the Usual Suspect at SubNews will accuse them of hitchhiking.

Let’s put it thus: the young Cree folks walked one hell of a long way, under miserable conditions, with their interrelated personal, political and cultural concerns. They stood for far more than themselves. The Official Leader of the Opposition, Tom Mulcair, greeted and congratulated the Walkers this afternoon. But the Prime Minister had better things to do than meet with the likes of them.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on March 25, 2013 5:04 PM.

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