12 May 2017 


by CPT Canada 

The black and white Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights flag waves beneath the sky-scrapers in down-town Toronto. A group of approximately 30 people have been walking for nearly a week. Battling rain, cold, sun and traffic, and ranging from 11 months to 86 years, the walkers bring on looks and questions from folks passing by. Toronto is not foreign to demonstrations or actions, yet there is something different about this group. Its steady focus and determination draw the attention of a local freelance journalist who spontaneously joins the walk for an hour. “What are you folks walking for he asks?” 

The Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights, organized by CPT Indigenous Peoples Solidarity and Mennonite Church Canada, is a 600km walk from Kitchener to Ottawa in support of the full adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).  While the Canadian government signed onto UNDRIP in 2016 there has been few changes in regards to federal policy or material conditions on the ground. 

Bandera del peregrinaje 

“There can be no reconciliation without justice,” Leah Gazan, Indigenous activist and professor from the University of Winnipeg, tells the attendees at the evening’s teach-in. In 2015, following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a list of recommendations were put forward to the Canadian public. These recommendations were considered to be the basic minimum actions that are required for reconciliation. On that list is the adoption and implementation of UNDRIP and yet while the country talks about the importance of reconciliation, without UNDRIPs implementation, reconciliation becomes hollow words without action.

Taking up the call of the TRC, the walkers on the Pilgrimage hope to build relationships, advocate and educate people on the importance of full adoption and implementation as a legislative framework. Joining them on their journey has been MP Romeo Saganash whose private member’s bill C-262 also calls for the implementation of UNDRIP. Speaking at the opening celebration Saganash commended the walkers, “I am appreciative of those going on this walk…Yet we are still not at a point I can talk about reconciliation…Bill C-262 is for all of us, Indigenous and non-Indigenous. This is about us. This is about all of us. We are in this together.”

Cuaderno de las reflexiones del peregrinaje