Nfld. & Labrador

Clergy abuse victim to walk across Newfoundland

Gemma Hickey, a woman who was abused by a priest decades ago, is getting ready to walk 900 kilometres in support of abuse victims at religious institutions.

Gemma Hickey plans to end walk at Mount Cashel Memorial in August

Gemma Hickey, was abused by a priest decades ago and is getting ready to walk 900 kilometres across Newfoundland in an effort to improve services for abuse victims at religious institutions 1:49

A woman who was abused by a priest decades ago is getting ready to walk 900 kilometres across Newfoundland in an effort to improve services for abuse victims at religious institutions.

Gemma Hickey will start her walk in Port aux Basques on Thursday. 

On Sunday she held a "pre-walk" around Quidi Vidi Lake in St. John's — an opportunity for people to walk with her and learn more about why she's taken on the challenge.

Gemma Hickey is going to walk 900 km across Newfoundland to bring attention to the need for improved services for abuse victims of religious institutions. (CBC)

Hickey founded an organization called Pathways for men and women who have experienced abuse within religious institutions.

"It's a deep wound in our province, and I think the best way for people to move forward and deal with it is to actually look at what happened and work toward prevention," she said.

"We have to do that collectively. It can't just be one individual."

Hickey's goal is to walk 30 kilometres every day, arriving at the Mount Cashel Memorial in St. John's in early August.   

She told CBC News she has worked through her own struggles with the abuse she suffered, and even reached out to the man who abused her.

"I requested to meet with him to actually communicate how that affected me in my life," she said.

"It's interesting to love someone and then to move to hating them, and then working your way out of that and having compassion as well. It's been a long road for me."