‘Good Life’ walk slated to return

Peggy Revell

After trekking miles through the heart of Treaty #3 territory last summer, the Good Life for Young People (Oshki Aa-Yaa’aag Mino Bimaadiziiwin) Foundation is setting out again later this month for the second “Walk for Good Life.”
“We’re pumped,” foundation president Al Hunter said about this year’s walk, which will run from July 24-31.
“We’ve got so many people that want to join us and want to help us, and that’s what it’s all about,” he enthused.
This year’s walk will begin at Eagle Lake First Nation at 4 p.m., where participants will camp overnight before setting off the next morning, with evening destinations across the region that include Timberwolf Lodge, Manitou Rapids, Onigaming First Nation, Rushing River Park, and Blue Lake Park.
Then they’ll return to Eagle Lake for the First Nation’s annual pow-wow.
“We’re going to average about 45 miles a day,” noted Hunter, with walkers being dropped off at a marked spot to walk for a mile until they meet at the next marked spot, where another walker will take over.
This year, participants will be collecting pledges to both offset costs for the walk as well as for soon-to-be announced cultural programs that will take place next summer.
The Good Life for Young People Foundation’s focus is to support aboriginal youth in areas of education, culture, employment, entrepreneurship, and more.
Hunter said the theme of this year’s walk is “Live and lead by example.”
“If you think about it, it’s like the difference between walking and talking,” he remarked. “We want to walk the walk, and we want the kids and young people and other people to join us in a demonstrable way.
“Use your feet to create awareness, to make change, to lend a hand.”
“It’s definitely a good time,” said Larissa Desrosiers, 14, who participated in the whole walk last year and is looking forward to this year’s event.
“It’s so much fun, it’s a good way to get outside,” she added. “It’s an amazing experience.
“It’s a good way to get active and meet new people, and just build connections with great new people.
“I’m really encouraging youth to come because it’s so much fun,” Desrosiers enthused.
The walk is important to her because she has seen over time that some youth do not have really strong support systems in their life.
For Desrosiers, the walk is “kind of like a healing” process, adding it helped her get through a rough time she was going through last summer.
“By the end of the walk, everybody was just like one big family,” she explained. “There was all this love being passed around constantly.
“Everybody was so supportive of one another.
“I just think the connections that we built—it was awesome.”
For Hunter, the best part about last year’s inaugural walk were all the youth who joined in—pointing again to this year’s theme of living and leading by example.
“We didn’t need a workshop to teach leadership skills, these kids did it,” he stressed.
“They led, they helped out, they did it every day and that’s what it’s all about,” Hunter said.
“We learn by watching as well as by doing, and that’s really want we want,” he added, encouraging people to come out again this year to participate.
Contributions can be made to the foundation through any RBC branch or c/o Peter Allison Accounting services, Hunter noted.
Besides monetary donations, items such as water, food, vehicles, drivers, gas money, pipe tobacco for ceremonial purposes, socks, shoes, bug spray, camping gear, hats, and sunblock also are welcome.
Those interested in participating, making donations, or learning more about the walk can do so by finding the event on Facebook through the foundation’s website at www.goodlifeforyoungpeople.com
The walk’s co-ordinators can be reached via e-mail at walkforgoodlife@gmail.com, or by calling 1-807-708-7392 (Joanne Kelly) or 274-6335 (Jess Desrosiers).