March 27, 2013

Nishiyuu walkers arrive in Ottawa

Nishiyuu Youth Walkers Greeted by Cheering, Thousands-Strong Crowd in Ottawa

By Paul SeesequasisIt was a triumph of the next generation, a beacon pointing toward the future. Sixty-eight days and 1,600 kilometers after setting out from the remote James Bay Cree community of Whapmagoostui First Nation, seven young aboriginals arrived in Ottawa on March 25 and stood proudly on the steps of Parliament before cheering crowds.

Along the way the “Original Seven,”—David Kawapit, 18; Geordie Rupert, 21; Raymond (Bajoo) Kawapit, 20; Stanley George Jr., 17; Travis George, 17; Jordon Masty, 19, and Johnny Abraham, also 19—as the Nishiyuu walkers became known, had picked up roughly 270 more, as well as thousands of supporters worldwide, and captured the imagination and hearts of many.

"I took this walk for healing, [for] the challenges we face,” said David Kapawit, the young man who was inspired to initiate the journey by Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence’s fast in protest of government policies. He spoke to the crowd in Cree. “I am so honored to see you all here in support. This moves me so much."

The simple message of unity and pride of the Cree, Algonquin, Inuit, Mohawk and other youth who undertook the trek resonated far beyond the Native world. The response also revealed that the inspiration behind the Idle No More movement is far from played out.
Panda-Harper Memes Fly as Prime Minister Jets to Toronto Instead of Greeting Nishiyuu WalkersAs the Nishiyuu walkers basked in the glow of their triumphant arrival in Ottawa after a 900-mile snowshoe trek from remote Whapmagoostui, Quebec, on March 26, the memes started flying. The panda memes, that is.

Notably absent from a greeting crowd of thousands that included Members of Parliament, the country’s highest-ranking First Nations leaders and other notables was Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He was in Toronto, greeting a pair of panda bears from China.

"It says a lot that Stephen Harper isn't here, that he's greeting the pandas,'' Green Party leader Elizabeth May told the Canadian Press. "It says a lot that we need to move heaven and earth to meet First Nations on a nation-to-nation basis with respect.''

Aboriginal leaders were also quick to note the stark contrast between the youths’ welcome and the Prime Minister’s absence.
Comment:  For more on Idle No More, see Idle No More in Europe and Idle No More Plans "Sovereignty Summer."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Want: Image macro of panda saying "Don't you have other priorities, Mr. Harper?"