By Jinsh Rayaroth
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
To reclaim the past and to remind the governments of the promises they made, Daniel Metatawabin is walking back home.
This residential school survivor from Fort Albany First Nation is demanding the provincial and federal governments honour First Nations treaties and rights. He has completed the first leg of this walk, 694 kilometres from Ottawa to Timmins, and will continue from Timmins to Attawapiskat this winter.
Today, he was in Timmins to meet supporters at the McIntyre Community Centre and walk to the Timmins Native Friendship Centre.
Physically tired but mentally motivated, Metatawabin is very hopeful of meeting the intention of the walk.
“In the beginning, it was very difficult. It was emotionally draining. I got sick on my feet,” he said with a smile on his face.
In 2014, along with other Omushkego walkers, Metatawabin walked from Attawapiskat First Nation to Parliament Hill, Ottawa. But he says the Treaty 9 rights for the Indigenous peoples have never been met.
Metatawabin also questions the government’s decision to bring more people from other countries as he believes the government cannot support the country’s people. He believes the right to free healthcare, education, hunting, trapping and fishing remain as promises.
“I am trying to attract the attention of the Crown,” he said.
This time, he is walking alone.
“There are a couple of times I wanted to throw in the towel. But I kept going for the spirit of the treaty,” he said.
“I kept going for the spirit of my people because I know my people are suffering more than I am suffering on my feet,” he explained.
People’s support helps him stay motivated.
Terry Metatawabin walked with him for about 35 kilometres.
“I feel really proud. I feel his excitements, his accomplishments, and he is only halfway there,” said Terry.
With the help of the young generation and social media, he thinks the walk’s goals will be met.
Sequan Metatawabin, Terry’s daughter, travelled from Calgary to support the event.
“I feel honoured that one of my family members is doing such a great thing for the community,” she said.
There were also some young people among his local supporters.
“I think it is a really good thing that Danny is doing for all of us,” said Aliyah Hookimaw.
She wants to continue supporting Metatawabin by talking more about the treaty.
Prianna Inishinapay is another proud supporter of Metatawabin.
“I feel I am conquering something. I am very happy to be a part of this,” she said. She is planning to keep supporting him in the future.
There is an online fundraiser to help cover the cost of food, travel and accommodations. So far, $1,885 of the $12,000 goal has been raised.
Jinsh Rayaroth is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter who works for the
TIMMINSTODAY.COM. The LJI program is federally funded. Turtle Island News does not receive LJI funding.