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Aboriginal Youth End Their Remarkable 1,600km Walk & Arrive On Parliament Hill
March 25, 2013
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A group of young aboriginal people ended a remarkable 1,600 kilometre walk, when they arrived on Parliament Hill today.

The group - six youths and a guide from the James Bay Cree community of Whapmagoostui, Quebec - set out in January in support of the Idle No More movement.

Through cold, and wind, and snow, with temperatures as low as -50C, they walked and snowshoed to Ottawa - camping out and picking up support as they went.

They called the walk "The Journey of Nishiyuu," which means "The Journey of the People" in Cree.

Along the way, other members of Cree and Algonquin communities joined the walk bring the total number of people in the group to nearly 400.

Thousands of people were on Parliament Hill today to welcome the walkers, who are calling for change in how aboriginal people are treated in Canada.

They say the walk was a way to show the federal government that First Nations are united and determined to preserve their language, culture, traditions and treaty rights.

aboriginal-youth-end-their-remarkable-1,600-km-walk-and-arrive-on-parliament-hill-feature2.jpg 18-year-old David Kawapit (left) is one of the original seven walkers.

"It feels really good, but at the same time I'm really sad that it's ending," he said as the group reached Chelsea, Quebec, about a three-hour walk from Ottawa. "Because a lot of us shared a lot good times here, sad times, but we all stuck together."

Kawapit says the walk has helped some people deal with personal struggles, including depression and suicidal thoughts.

"It feels really good that a lot of people are paying attention to what's going on, and that a lot of these guys that are walking with us are helping themselves on this journey.

"But this journey's really shown me a lot - how much I can help people. And it's really given me a better understanding of life. I've made a lot of friends here, so there's no way I'm going to leave them."

The walkers have received support from many First Nations communities they went through on their trip.

Theoren Awashish joined the group about half way, but had to stop for a week after he got seriously ill. But after he received medical treatment, he was back out there.

"Because I miss them, because they are brothers and sisters," Awashish said.

aboriginal-youth-end-their-remarkable-1,600-km-walk-and-arrive-on-parliament-hill-feature3.jpg Lisa Commanda joined the group last Thursday when it arrived at the Kitigan Zibi Algonquin reserve in western Quebec.

"It's just been a truly amazing experience. I'll tell you, words cannot describe the feeling that I'm feeling, that the group is feeling, that the walkers are feeling," Commanda said.

In the House of Commons, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Bernard Valcourt acknowledged the courage of the young people, and said he would meet with them.

"The Journey of Nishiyuu" Facebook group has more than 32,700 members.

For more, check out the post on rabble.ca entitled "Forget Panda Diplomacy; It's the Journey Nishiyuu That Deserves Our Full Attention"

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