(Update: January 2012: In the almost five years since I wrote this post, it has received over 1500 views. That’s not much by internet standards, but a few people a week click on the link (8 so far this week), and so I thought I’d update it with people who have walked across Canada since I wrote it, and others who I didn’t mention before (cause I didn’t mention many at all). (also: I only got three days into my walk. This post was written in 2007 when I was preparing to leave)
(Update: May 2012: The warm weather means that a few more walks across Canada are happening. Two that I know of so far are the S.O.S. On to Ottawa trek, part of the Occupy Movement, and the March 4 Justice, which is the journey of “Leo Baskatawang, a graduate student at the University of Manitoba, is marching from Vancouver to Ottawa this summer to raise awareness about the government of Canada’s apparent unwillingness to address critical Aboriginal issues in a timely and effective manner. As part of his demonstration, Baskatawang will chain a copy of the Indian Act to his ankle. He says that the Indian Act is “a notoriously relic piece of federal legislation that has subjugated Aboriginal peoples to archaic colonial policy”.”
There is also the Freedom Walk, with various people walking 4,500 for victims of violent crime, Walk for Mother Earth 2012, in which Raven Courtney of the Anishanabe Nation is walking from Vancouver to St. John’s to bring the message that the earth is sacred, and Dana Meise is back on the road, working on an effort he started in 2008 to walk the 18,000km trans-canada trail.
Most walks seem to require a lot of advance planning, and many of those who will set out to walk in 2013 are already making plans and preperations, including Joe Roberts, who plans to push a shopping cart from Calgary to Vancouver to build awareness and support for homeless youth.
Previous walks: Not everyone has walked sea to sea. That’s not the point.
The Seven Generations Healing Network (2011-2012)
Kyle Pickering and Bobby McDowell 2005-2006
Ole Olson and Helen Viel (2000)
Adam Rieger (2010)
Yvan Fraser-Beaulieu (2011)
Balwinder Singh Kahlon (2011)
Walk4Justice (2011) (2008)
Shaira Holman (2010)
Imam Syed Soharwardy (2008)
John Davidson (1988)
Jean Béliveau (2011)
Bhaktimarga Swami (1996, 2003, 2007)
Dana Meise (2010)
Evan Morgan (2001)
Lori Wikdahl (2003-2004)
Jim Terrion (1990)
Bob and Dian Benson (2006)
Mark Nightingale (2004)
Joe MacPhee and Clyde McRae (1973)
Jay Won (1997)
Richard and Lois Pearce (1991)
Alexander MacKenzie (1793)
Eloise Charet (1998-1999)
Jenny and Frank Dill (1921)
Nishnawbe Aski Nation youth (2011)
(more added soon)
(and now follows the original post from 2007)
The first person to walk across Canada was John Hugh Gillis, who set out from Cape Breton on a bet and a dare in January 1906 and arrived in Vancouver on September 1906.
The most recent person to make the journey is J. Palko, who left vancouver April 3, 2007 to walk across canada to promote peace and raise money for Mir Movement. His website is at http://mirmovement.blogsource.com.
Another cross-canada walker, Trevor Redmond just arrived last week in Cape Spear, Newfoundland, after leaving Vancouver in March, 2006. His is now walking back to Vancouver. His website is http://www.thereandbackcanada.com, and he is raising money and awareness for cancer research.
Inspiring as these people are, I have never heard of them before today. I have drawn my inspiration for Terry Fox, Peace Pilgrim, and Rosilee Little Thunder.
Everyone in Canada knows who Terry Fox is. In 1980, having already lost his leg to cancer, he set out to RUN across canada to raise money and awareness for cancer research. It didn’t matter that he didn’t make it all the way before he died. He instantly became a great canadian hero and a modern historical figure. There are Terry Fox Runs in every town and city across Canada every year now to raise money for cancer research.
Another hero of mine is a woman simply known as Peace Pilgrim. To quote a website about her; “From 1953 to 1981 a silver haired woman calling herself only “Peace Pilgrim” walked more than 25,000 miles on a personal pilgrimage for peace. She vowed to “remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food.” In the course of her 28 year pilgrimage she touched the hearts, minds, and lives of thousands of individuals all across North America. Her message was both simple and profound. It continues to inspire people all over the world.” She has definitely inspired me.
The person whose walk was most similar to mine, in terms of purpose, is Rosalie Little Thunder, a co-founder of Buffalo Field Campaign. In 1999 Rosalie Little Thunder and Joseph Chasing Horse led some 40 Native people on Tatanka Oyate Mani, the Walk for the Buffalo Nation, from South Dakota’s Black Hills to the stone archway of Yellowstone’s northern entrance. Pleasen read this wonderful article by Winona LaDuke about the Tatanka Oyate Mani. A PBS documentary was made about the walk called “The Buffalo War.” And you can read about it here. Needless to say, the Tatanka Oyate Mani was a big inspiration for me.
Some of the people who have made the walk across Canada have done so with support vehicles, expensive gear, wireless internet, years of planning, etc. I am doing more of a Peace Pilgrim style journey. I have been called to walk for the buffalo, and I have to go, ready or not.
I will be relying on the kindness of strangers. It is a leap of faith, an act of desperation, a pilgrimage to honour the buffalo, and a way to get to Newfoundland the only way I want to travel anymore. No more cars for me. I hope to see yu along the way.