Clean water and close communities--that’s what the “Walk to Remember” was all about.
Al Hunter, from Rainy River First Nation, was one of a rotating group that walked around Lake Superior for 57 days this summer. Their goal was to bring people together to protest the dirtying of our water.
“All people need to come together to say this can’t happen any more,” Hunter stressed.
The walk shouldn’t be called an “event,” he noted. “It was one big ceremony of offerings and prayer for people and places,” Hunter explained.
The group, which fluctuated between six and 60 people as they walked around the lake, was praying to the spirits of the lake and water and the creator, Hunter said. They wanted to show they were trying to clean up the water so people years from now still will have a clean source.
“Whatever decisions we make today should include what the future might hold for the children who aren’t even born yet,” he said.
Hunter cited big multinational companies, big industries, and governments that fail to protect the water as those responsible for putting the water in the state it’s in.
Besides the environmental aspect, the walk also stressed everyone is part of a common community.
“We wanted to bring communities together--get people to see that no matter where they are, they’re part of a community,” Hunter remarked.
As they walked, the group carried a sacred staff in honour of Walter Bresette, a treaty rights activist and environmentalist.
Hunter said he felt a responsibility to walk around Lake Superior and deliver the clean water message. “Time and time again, we’re waiting for the next Walkerton,” he warned. “I’m not going to wait.”
The walk began June 29, with Hunter returning home Aug. 25. The group started in Odanah, Wis., near Ashland, and touched base in Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie, completing the circuit around the lake two days ahead of schedule.
They stopped at local families’ homes for rest and food. People from all over North America donated food and money. Hunter said that with the heat and closeness of the group, the walk did get hard as they went along.
“But we came together as a family and walked through the struggles and difficulties,” he added.
The next step, Hunter said, is to continue teaching the community about environmental problems. He estimates that in the next three years, his group can reach roughly 100,000 people.
“We have to organize person by person, community by community, ceremony by ceremony.
“There are no more options. We need to do something now--it’s plain and simple,” he stressed. “I don’t know how much more simple it can get.”