bear staff

Saskatoon elder Paul Laliberte giving the bear staff to marcher Guyustis Kigame. (David Shield, CBC)

Elder Paul Laliberte says giving away his precious bear staff just made sense.

Laliberte, a well-known elder from Northern Saskatchewan, gave the staff to a group of traditional First Nations spiritual leaders travelling across the country Monday night.

"Well, in the year 2000, I walked all the way from Edmonton to Ottawa for residential school abuse, and when I seen those people walking up there, they're basically talking about justice and unity issues," Laliberte said.

Decades old, Laliberte inherited the staff from other elders. While he's made some minor modifications along the way, the staff is still basically the same.

Laliberte says he was drawn to the group's message.

"That staff, it's supposed to represent justice," he said.

The collection of walkers is called Alwalaskensis II--a Journey of Truth and Unity. It's designed to raise awareness of First Nations issues, and has been stopping in various communities across the country as they travel to Ottawa.

Walker Guyustis Kigame says shining more light on environmental problems is essential.

"When we look at it, (the planet) is dying," he said. "Millions of things washing up on the shores, dead. Very concerned about it. And if people know about it, they might begin to get concerned too." 

The walkers are expected to arrive in Ottawa next week.