My Experience at the Youth Walk of Hope
By Taha Muharuma
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve had the opportunity to help Inspirit transform its visual identity. Little did I know that I too would be transformed in the process. Like many Canadians, I had some knowledge of Indigenous communities in Canada. However, working on a number of projects like the Change Leader short documentaries, Inspirit at the Movies conversation circles and the Foundations Partnering for Reconciliation Summit, I’ve had the opportunity to deepen my understanding.
As with all of my creative projects, I listen to stories and seek to create real relationships in order to draw out the essence of a particular moment. Some of these moments have been surprisingly emotional. This was also the case with my most recent assignment at the Youth Walk of Hope involving Indigenous young people from Mushkegowuk First Nation communities. This 950km walk was a protest and show of solidarity against the mass suicides that ravaged youths in First Nations communities in the James Bay region, as well as other communities across the country. The month-long journey started in Cochrane, Ontario on June 7 and ended in Niagara Falls at the Assembly of First Nations 37th-annual General Assembly.
Here’s what I saw.
One of the Walkers holds up a handmade sign on the last leg of their journey to Niagara Falls. By 8am it was already 26 degrees outside.
Support leader Danny Metatawabin rounds up the tail end, encouraging and protecting the Walkers with traditional songs as they walked ahead.
“The Mothers”, Elders lead all the Walkers into the First Nations Assembly.
A sense of accomplishment, even for just a moment.
This is Raven Friday. Not only is he a Walker, he and his brother started an Aboriginal Hockey League.
“Hope, I realized, is just a word. Action is always what’s needed”. Words from Walk Leader Pat Etherington Jr.
Just as the sun fully came out the Walkers posed for a group photo and reflected on the morning. I remember this frame because the Walkers were trying to straighten the banner for me.
Each generation understands the next.
All we have is each other.