September 17, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
UNITY WALK TO HONOUR RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL SURVIVORS
Fox Lake Cree Nation calls for increased addiction and healing supports in Northern Manitoba
Gillam, Manitoba: On September 18, 2021, Fox Lake Cree Nation will begin an over 1000 km walk from Gillam, Manitoba. The walkers will be arriving in Winnipeg and at the Manitoba Legislative Building on September 30, 2021, coinciding with Orange Shirt Day and the new federal National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Led by Councillor Sophie Lockhart, a residential school survivor, the Cree Nation is walking to honour residential school survivors and the thousands of Indigenous children who never made it home and continue to be found in unmarked graves at residential school sites across Canada.
“As a national spotlight was shone on graves of children at residential schools, I found myself always thinking about those children that didn’t make it home. Those classmates in residential school that we never knew what happened to them. I think it’s important that we keep the national conversation going. We need to keep holding Canada and the churches accountable. We need to honour those little kids and the survivors. I ran away from residential school three times, and now I am walking to honour those that can’t because they never returned.” Councillor Sophie Lockhart, Fox Lake Cree Nation residential school survivor and one of the many children taken away from their families in Northern Manitoba.
The walk will begin with approximately 20 walkers and is expected to grow along the route as they are joined by other supporting communities. On arrival in Winnipeg, they will be joined by Fox Lake elders who were amongst the first to be taken away to residential schools.
“As we honour our survivors, we also know that as investigations continue thousands more unmarked graves will be found, and we cannot allow Canada to simply “move on”. The nation’s attention to the horror of residential schools must not be lost,” remarked Chief Morris Beardy, Fox Lake Cree Nation.
Fox Lake Cree Nation is also sending a strong call for increased addictions treatment and culturally relevant healing supports that are required in the region.
“Residential school survivors and their families continue to struggle with the lasting intergenerational impacts of being torn from their families, culture, and communities. Some of our people are still lost in addictions, scared to deal with their issues and afraid of the outcome of reopening old wounds. They need options close to home in order to work through the horror of their experience, learn healthy ways to cope, and come to a place of healing that breaks the cycle and starts to rebuild family and culture,” added Councillor Lockhart.
“I want to thank all of those who are contributing to this effort and for making this walk a reality. Fox Lake is inviting all other First Nations and communities along the route to join us on our walk and in honouring those children that were stolen from their families,” concluded Chief Beardy.
Everyone is welcome to join this important walk along the route and at the grounds of the Manitoba Legislative grounds on September 30, 2021.
Anyone wanting to support the walk can do so by contacting Councillor Sophie Lockhart at [email protected] or (431)-285-3510.
Any donations that are not used to support the walk will be donated to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.