A group of Sachigo Lake youth have completed the winter-road portion of their 1,000-kilometre Journey of New Beginnings fundraising walk to Thunder Bay.
“At 12 o’clock I got a call from them saying they were at the Windigo Road already,” said Dean Beardy, spokesman for the 10 walkers, on April 8. “They pushed it for last three days before the winter road got too wet.”
The walkers, including former Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School students Randell Barkman, Lazlo Kaminawash, Kevin Smith, William Ombash, Charmaine Barkman, Genevieve Beardy and Devon Thunder and elementary school students Karma Barkman, Keyra Barkman and Janessa Barkman, left Sachigo Lake on April 5 with the goal of reaching Thunder Bay on April 22. They are looking to raise funds for the recently announced Dennis Franklin Cromarty Living Centre, which is scheduled to be open by the 2015-16 school year.
“They are sort of kicking off the funding campaign,” said Tom Kamenawatamin, Wasaya Group’s president and CEO. “But the main thing is they are raising awareness of what we’re doing. The youth are setting a good example and they are potential good role models for other young people.”
Wasaya Group announced plans for the $15 million, two-storey, 55,000 square-foot DFC Student Living Centre on March 27 at DFC along with representatives from NNEC, Confederation College and the City of Thunder Bay.
“There are going to be a lot of benefits (to the city),” Kamenawatamin said. “Each student brings in about $25,000 to $30,000 while they are in school here over the year, and when you count that times 150 students, that is quite a bit of economic (benefits) that they bring into the city.”
Kamenawatamin said the youngest walker is nine years old and the next two are 10 and 13.
“It shows that the students are willing to go after their dreams, something they hope to see in the future, rather than just sitting back and hoping and wishing for something,”
Kamenawatamin said. “Go and do it and do whatever you can to achieve your dreams. It gives them responsibility as well as pride in doing this. I certainly am very proud of them, seeing the potential leadership there by what they are demonstrating they can do.”
Beardy said the two youngest students’ older brothers had attended DFC in the past, so they
knew what the walk was about.
“The DFC Living Centre sounds exciting to them, especially when you’re looking at attaching a youth centre to it,” Beardy said.
Beardy said the walkers have been pleased with the support received from communities along their route.
“They passed through Muskrat Dam on the first day and the hospitality they received was outstanding,” Beardy said. “It’s the same thing with Round Lake — the Elders went out and greeted the walkers as they were coming into their community.”
The walkers are scheduled to arrive in Pickle Lake by April 11.
“We’d like to see the other communities get involved or make a pledge,” Beardy said. “We do have a lot of people that want to go to DFC from up north, so it would be good if they made contributions to this important initiative.”
Pledges and donations can be made through the Sachigo Lake First Nation Chief and Council at 807-595-2577.
Photos and information about the walk are available at the Journey of New Beginnings Facebook page.
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