Students walk across prairies to highlight injustices faced by Indigenous people
- EFN Staff | May 11, 2018
Students at the First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) Saskatoon campus and community members are doing an honour walk called Freedom from Injustice. Participants met at Saskatoon’s Court House on Monday, May 7th to begin their trek. The goal is to walk to Winnipeg, MB, to bring awareness to the injustices that Indigenous people have faced in the justice system.
Katryna Smith, Women and Gender Studies student, said this walk is important to bring awareness of Indigenous injustices.
“We’re walking because when we seen the trials of Boushie and Fontaine, our hearts started to grieve,” said Smith, who sits on the FNUniv Student Association. “We started to have student association members tell us that their kids afraid. We didn’t want to do a rally because it’s a one-day thing…so a walk seemed to be the best way to honour the lives that were lost already. Injustices are happening to young people. We want people to recognize that we need to stand and rise up for our youth.”
A crowd walked along with the six walkers in Saskatoon until they hit Highway 11 south. The participants take turns walking while one drives and the others rest their feet – each shift is 2-3 hours. They start their day with a pipe ceremony, smudging, a quick bite then waking up the body by doing some stretches and leg exercises to prepare the day ahead. The men carry the flagstaff and a flag while walking with the ladies who pray as they walk.
When it starts getting dark, they pitch up tents in the nearest town that has rest stop with campsites. They end the day with a pipe ceremony.
FNUniv SA president Kayla Ironstar-Murray said along the way, they had animal encounters that they were grateful to witness.
“There were seven white-tailed deer lined up with their fawns beside them,” said Ironstar-Murray. “We got horse dances. The animals are alive with us right now. We’ve seen a numerous number of hawks and eagles. All we’ve been doing is following protocol by smudging and praying.”
Ironstar-Murray said cars have been honking in support as they drive past the Freedom of Injustice walkers. Elders have stopped by to put down tobacco for their safe journeys and even the President of the Veterans Association of Manitoba stopped in to commend their efforts. She hopes this honour walk will help mend bridges and build relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to work together.
“I want people to support a change in the system for Indigenous people,” said Ironstar-Murray. “We need to use our voices, actions and utilizing their own way to stand up for against the injustices…it’s a support cause for the youth and future generations.”
They are looking for donations to help with gas and food in the next coming weeks. They expect to be in Winnipeg on June 7th to end their Freedom of Injustice Walk.