On March 28th, Maureen Wood from St. Theresa Point First Nation began walking to raise awareness of the devastating impacts of methamphetamine in the Island Lake First Nations. The communities of roughly 14,000 people, including Wagasamack, St. Theresa Point, Red Sucker Lake and Garden Hill First Nations, are remote isolated communities located in northern Manitoba who were evacuated to Winnipeg last summer as a result of forest fires in the area. Once in Winnipeg, members from the communities, especially youth, were targeted by drug dealers and given free samples of the drug. The walk grew to include 40 walkers who walked for a total of 55 days and 3,000 kilometres through harsh winter conditions and terrain.
I had been following the journey of the walkers from my community of St. Theresa Point and was able to meet them when they arrived in Arnprior on May 21st and walked with them to Ottawa. During the 65km walk to Parliament Hill, I connected with family members from St. Theresa Point and heard some heartbreaking stories about the impact of meth addiction on entire families. Once we arrived at Parliament Hill, we met with the Liberal Caucus and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau where community members were able to voice their concerns and ask the government to establish treatment and youth centres in their communities. The walkers also met with the Minister of Indigenous Services, Jane Philpott.
I was so honoured to be a part of this walk. Chi mi’gwich to all of the walkers for your work to bring awareness to this disease!