Kids, News

First Nations Teens Walk 1,500 Km To Raise Awareness


Six young people and a guide walked 1,500 kilometres to bring awareness to the issues of First Nations people in North America. The walk was inspired by the Idle No More movement.

They called their walk, “The Journey of Nishiyuu.” In Cree, “nishiyuu” means “the people.”

The group left the Cree community of Whapmagoostui in Quebec on January 16. Along their walk, more than 300 people joined them; thousands more gathered with them at the end of their journey, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on March 25.

Along the way the group stopped at aboriginal communities. They also visited Victoria Island where Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence recently held a hunger strike to protest the Canadian government’s First Nations policies.

The idea for the walk came from 18-year-old David Kawapit, who wanted to bring attention to some of the challenges faced by people in First Nations communities. Some of those challenges include a lack of clean drinking water and inadequate housing.

On their website, the group describes their mission:

This quest-journey will establish and unite our historical allies and restore our traditional trade routes with the Algonquin, Mohawk and other First Nations. The time for Unity is now.

During the two-month journey, the group travelled across many types of terrain, including forests and along snowy roads, using wooden snowshoes and mukluks. The walkers camped in tents or a canvas-covered lodge along the route. On some nights the temperatures dropped to less than minus-50C.

When they reached the end of their journey, the group held a rally outside the Parliament Building. As the celebration began, a single eagle circled around high in the air, which caused people to break into applause.

The “original seven” walkers (each under the age of 20) were Stanley George Jr., Johnny Abraham, David Kawapit, Raymond Kawapit, Geordie Rupert and Travis George. Their guide was Isaac Kawapit, 49.

Related links

The group’s website

TKN article on the Idle No More movement.

By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
The Journey of Nishiyuu was also called a quest. The definition of “quest” is “to search.” What do you think the walkers were searching for?

Reading Prompt: Reading Unfamiliar Words
Today’s article may have contain many words that are unfamiliar to you. How did you read these words? If you sounded them out using common spelling words that you know already, or words within words, you used graphophonic skills. Reread today’s article and underline all of the words you read using a graphophonic strategy.

Primary, Junior, and Intermediate
Predict the meaning of and rapidly solve unfamiliar words using different types of cues, including: graphophonic (phonological and graphic) cues (e.g., onset and rime; syllables; similarities between words with common spelling patterns and unknown words; words within words (OME, Reading: 3.2).

Grammar Feature: Quotation marks
Quotation marks can be used to do many different things. Most often they are used to show the reader exact speech. Today’s article includes quotation marks in order to show the reader a few different things.

Read the three sentences below from today’s story and discuss with a friend why you think quotation marks were used in each. Do an internet search or ask an adult to find out!

They called their walk, “The Journey of Nishiyuu.” In Cree, “nishiyuu” means “the people.”

The “original seven” walkers… were…”