(see also: People Who Have Walked Across Canada) for a list of people who have walked across Canada.)
On May 10, 2007, being ill-prepared, but eager for the challenge that lay ahead of me, I set out from Mile Zero of the Trans-Canada Highway to walk across Canada.
Three days later, having completed only 65km towards my goal, I realized that I would have to call the journey off. I had made 35k the first day, 18k the second, and 12k the third day. I was limping, and my shoulders were sore from the weight of my backpack, but I felt that I had crossed a pain threshold and that I would have been able to keep walking had I had enough food.
I admit that it was presumptuous of me to expect other people to feed me along the way, but I am a dreamer, and was inspired by Peace Pilgrim, who ‘walked until offered shelter and fasted until offered food.’
The difference between myself and Peace Pilgrim however is that she was a silver haired lady, and whereas even though I had a sign on my back saying I was walking across Canada for wild bison, I believe I still appeared to most people as just another vagrant hippie come from Ontario to the B.C. promiseland.
I recieved a few handskakes, good lucks, pastries, spare change and good on ya’s, but it wasn’t enough to keep me fed. I had been rationing my food, so I never did run out, but on the third day I had become ill from not having eaten enough for the amount of exercise I was doing.
The decision to give up on the walk was the most painful thing of all. I don’t regret having tried, but I feel a certain sense of humiliation having sent out press releases, telling everyone that I would be walking across the country and even doing a television interview on the morning I left, and then not even making it to the mainland.
The sense of humiliation, shame and failure was heavy as I stuck out my thumb and started hitchhiking to a friend’s place in the Comox Valley.
My journey was a misguided, ill-prepared, naive adventure, but it was also an act of desperation. To say I am truly concerned about the state of the wild is an understatement, yet I must confess that I am seriously struggling to find a way in which I feel I am being an effective activist.
I have nothing but time and energy for this cause, and I am determined to live my life full-time as a warrior for what I believe in. The people who are destroying what I consider sacred are devoting full days to their industries, so how can I feel effective fighting them for just two hours on Saturday, or whenever I have time off from wage-slaving for the system?
I don’t have a university degree and there is not much employment available to me that I feel positions me as a part of the solution. Whereas the ways that are available to support myself are generally very much a part of the problem.
So I set about on a desperate ill-concieved mission to live my values and spread the message to as many people as I could – full-time, all day, every day.
It didn’t pan out, and I’m definitely disappointed but I am not beaten. I’m rapidly losing options for supporting myself, but I am still a warrior. I am still devoted to protecting the bison, the caribou, the grizzly, the wolf, the forests, the oceans and all that we are as a giant interconnected organism. This is who I am, and I’m admittedly not very good at it right now, but I will never regret trying.
I’ll also admit that I can become quite pessimistic from time to time about the ability of the environmental movement (radical or mainstream) to turn the tide of destruction that are wild spaces are suffering under, but it doesn’t effect my resolve to continue fighting. Maybe we will consume our society into collapse, dragging a large part of nature down with us, but I will never accept what our society has become. I am determined to help keep alive the culture of respect for the natural world, so that even if these are the last days, we will live them as we feel in our hearts we should.
It is a well-worn cliche of resistance, but I believe, as Emiliano Zapata said “It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees.” The forces of greed and brutal disrespect for the earth are powerful, and by many accounts they are winning. There are still legions of us however who can never stop believing in the sacredness of all life and the clear imperative to protect with our lives that which we know to be of crucial value to our existance.
So what’s next for me? Well, I’ve got some more crazy ideas but I’m going to keep them under my hat for a while this time.
Thanks to everyone who supported me in this attempt and much love and respect to all those who continue to fight for the Earth.