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Walkers from Attawapiskat head to Ottawa

Wednesday January 8, 2014
Submitted by Jonathan Solomon
Brian Okimaw, Danny Metatawabin, Remi Nakogee and Paul Mattinas are a group of Attawapiskat residents walking to Ottawa.
Photo by Brent Edwards
The walkers arrived in Fort Albany on Jan. 8 and were joined by Chief Rex Knapaysweet.

A group of Attawapiskat residents have started a walk to Ottawa, calling on First Nations people to “be awakened and take action on matters that affects our existence.”

On Jan. 4, Danny Metatawabin, Brian Okimaw and Paul Mattinas began their journey from Attawapiskat First Nation, walking along the James Bay winter road.

Dubbed “Reclaiming Our Steps Past, Present and Future,” the spiritual journey calls on First Nations to take action and for the federal and provincial governments to honour the treaties.

“We cannot remain silent and/or be silenced no more,” Metatawabin wrote on Facebook. “This is our time. Change is upon us and we are
the change.”

A member of Fort Albany First Nation, Metatawabin was the spokesman and close supporter of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence during her hunger strike last winter.

“The time to address and reconcile Aboriginal issues is now! The time to work together with the utmost respect on a Nation to Nation basis is now!” Metatawabin wrote on Jan. 6. “We are and will continue to be here and we want our rightful place back within this country called Canada.”

The group walks during the day, beginning at sunrise and ending at sunset. They spend the night in the nearest community. They are supported by a group of helpers, who carry supplies on ski-doos and transport the walkers each day when they begin and end their walk.

By the end of Jan. 6, Metatawabin announced that Remi Nakogee of Attawapiskat joined the walkers.

The walkers have called for support from the communities of Kashechewan, Fort Albany, Moose Factory and Moosonee for accommodations and helpers.
They also hope to gain support from Timmins, the largest urban centre in northeastern Ontario.

The walkers arrived in Fort Albany on Jan. 8, the fifth day of the walk. Kashechewan and Fort Albany held a potluck feast in honour of the walkers as they passed through the communities.

The journey can be followed on Facebook by liking the “Reclaiming Our Steps Past, Present and Future” page.

Ottawa is about 700 kilometres away from Timmins by road, while Timmins is about 500 kilometres south of Attawapiskat.

A year ago, a group of six Cree youth walkers and their guide set out from Whapmagoostui, Que. – located along the Hudson Bay coast – to Ottawa. Called the Journey of Nishiyuu, the walkers were joined by nearly 300 others and they completed their 1,600-kilometre journey in late March.

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No one should think the

No one should think the gnnvromeet minister, his office and responsible segments of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada are clean in this one. Every federal agency, including CRA, CBSA, DOTC, and the RCMP are not and have not been able to do their jobs for years, including meeting their mandate externally and internally. This is a problem for the gnnvromeet how do they do anything constructive without blowback. Careers are on the line ande needs to be sacrificial llambs.

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