A group of about 30 walkers, along with two support vans, will be passing through Addington Highlands and Central Frontenac this weekend on their way to Ottawa where they will be going to Parliament to demonstrate in favour of the adoption of Bill C262, a Private members bill that was drafted by MP Romeo Saganash, which is aimed at ensuring “that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declarationon the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” (UNDRIP).
The walk itself, which is co-sponsored by the Mennonite Church of Canada and Christian Peacemaker Teams: Indigenous Peoples Solidarity was inspired by the report of the Commission on Truth and Reconciliation, in particular number 48 in the Calls to Action that accompanied the report.
Number 48 calls upon churches to formally “adopt and comply with the principles, norms, and standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation.” It also calls on churches and church groups to engage in “ongoing public dialogue and actions to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
Chuck Wright of the Christian Peacemakers is one of the organisers of the trip. He said that by walking 600 kilometres over 21 days and stopping most nights in a host church along the way and holding a learning circle, participants in the trip are “attempting in their own way to honour Call to Action number 48”.
The walkers will be staying in Flinton at Through the Roof Ministry on Saturday Night (May 6) as guests of the congregation. On Sunday morning a father and daughter who are participating in the walk will be speaking to the congregation during Sunday services. They will be guests of the Shabot Obaadjiwan on Sunday Night, May 7, near White Lake, and then travelling to the Maberly hallthe next day. The day after that (May 9) they travel to Perth where they will participate in an event at St. Paul’s United Church at 7pm. That event will feature speakers including MP Saganash — who for more than 30 years has played a key role in the development and drafting of UNDRIP — and Leah Gazan, a member of Wood Mountain Lakota Nation who teaches at the faculty of education at the University of Winnipeg.
In addition to the scheduled events, Wright said that people are more than welcome to join the walkers on the road as they cross through the region to walk and talk about why they are walking and the role they see church communities playing in the future relationship between settler and indigenous communities.
Their website describes the initiative in this way: We have named this walk a pilgrimage to signal: our dependence upon the Creator; our desire to hold the spiritual and the political together, and; our attempt to connect this fragile initiative to the rich history of sacred walks seeking reparative change (e.g., the Native American Longest Walk, Chavez’ Pilgrimage to Sacramento, the Civil Rights March on Selma, Gandhi’s Salt March, and so on).
“We also welcome everyone who is interested to join us on May 13 at 2pm for the Walk the Talk rally at Parliament Hill, our rally in support of implementation of Bill C262.