Yesterday, David Kawapit, Stanley George Jr, Geordie Rupert, Travis George, Johnny Abraham and Raymond Kawapit, along with the 263 other young people who joined them en route from Whapmagoostui, arrived in Ottawa, on foot, having walked 1000 miles in temperatures that hit a low of -58ºC, as part of the Idle No More movement.
The sun came out over Parliament Hill, along with several thousand people, and the walkers each talked about their journey and the reasons behind it. But Stephen Harper wasn’t there. The prime minister was at Toronto airport, greeting two pandas just arrived from China. He described them as ‘national treasures’. Most of the mainstream media followed Harper to Toronto; they’ve paid little attention to the Journey of Nishiyuu since the walkers set out on 16 January.
It has received plenty of attention on social media, however, especially from young people, who recognise it as a historic achievement. The walkers were welcomed, fed, celebrated and hosted by the many communities through which they passed.
But Harper has made his priorities clear, as his government continues to pursue policies that violate aboriginal treaty rights, weaken environmental laws and neglect the poverty and social problems in many First Nation communities.