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Aboriginal Youth On Epic 1,500 Kilometre Walk To Parliament Hill; Expected To Arrive In Days
March 20, 2013
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Facebook: The Journey of Nishiyuu

Sometime in the next several days, a group of young Cree people is expected to arrive on Parliament Hill.

But their journey to get there has been long, cold and tiring.

Just over two months ago, they left the small Cree community of Whapmagoostui on Hudson Bay in northern Queebc.

Since then, they've been walking through the cold, snow, and woods to Ottawa - enduring temperatures of minus 40-50C to support the Idle No More Movement.

They set out January 16th - six young people and a 49-year-old guide/master hunter - inspired by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence's hunger strike.

The youngest walker is an 11-year-old girl, Abby Masty from Whapmagoostui.

Abby's mother Rita Masty said her daughter had a dream that she would stay with the walkers all the way to Ottawa.

She told CBC North "Of course I worry about her and about her safety and the cold nights there will be during that journey.

But I have faith in my daughter that she will be well-taken of. I was so happy that one of the walkers will be a woman," she said.

The group is calling their walk 'The Journey of Nishiyuu', which means the 'Journey of the People' in Cree.

By the time they reach Parliament Hill (on March 25), they'll have walked more than 1,500 kilometres with their parkas, mukluks, snowshoes and supplies.

Facebook: The Journey of Nishiyuu

Their goal is to raise awareness about their culture and the environment, and to push for changes in how aboriginal people are treated in Canada.

Along the way, they've stopped in communities picking up support - their numbers steadily growing, from seven walkers at the start to more than 170 now.

Matthew Mukash is a former Grand Chief of the Grand Council of Crees in Quebec and a spokesperson for the group who stayed behind.

"There are a number of challenges - first is the elements. You have to face the elements in the wintertime. The cold and the storms and stuff like that. And also at night it's very cold. You have to make sure you don't get cold when you're sleeping," he told CBC North.

They've also been away from their families for more than two months but Mukash said they're very determined.

"The second day, in the evening, it went down to -58C and they slept in their canvas-covered lodge... They went on like that for a month," he told The Toronto Star.

Facebook: The Journey of Nishiyuu

About two weeks ago, the group reached Algonquin territory in Lac Simon, Quebec - 30 kilometres from Val d'Or.

Marilyne Jerome, the director of education for Lac Simon, said her daughter had joined the walkers.

"This is the message of what they want as a future," she said. "The future they want is to know who they are and where they come from."

16-year-old Saige Mukash joined the walk along the way too and spoke to the CBC a month afterwards.

"It's an amazing experience walking in snowshoes, and feeling the pain in your feet and your legs is pretty amazing because that is what our people used to do and we know how much they suffered walking from place to place," she said.

In a piece for, journalist Cathryn Atkinson described the walkers goal this way...

"They want to change the contempt with which they are treated, they want to end the blockage placed in front of them designed to quash their aspirations and heritage, they want to end the mentality of relegation that sees so many First Nations forced into to the lowest status imaginable by the political and cultural mainstream."

Facebook: The Journey of Nishiyuu

You can read her full post here.

The website for the journey is It will also take you to the Facebook group, which now has more than 30,000 members.

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