Omushkegowuk Walkers from Attawapiskat First Nation arrive in Ottawa

AFN Press Release

February 24, 2014

Assembly of First Nations Welcomes Arrival of Omushkegowuk Walkers in Ottawa

(Ottawa, ON) - The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) today welcomed the arrival of the Omushkegowuk Walkers to Ottawa, Ontario, arriving after a walk from Attawapiskat First Nation in Omushkegowuk territory that began on January 4.

"We welcome the Omushkegowuk Walkers to Ottawa and, on behalf of the entire Assembly of First Nations national Executive, convey our deepest respect and appreciation for their dedication and commitment to First Nations rights and Treaties," said AFN National Chief Atleo. "Their journey was a journey for all of us - our Elders, our children and the generations to come. We fully support their message that the time to honour our Treaties is now, the time to address and reconcile Aboriginal issues is now, and the time to work together with the utmost respect on a Nation-to-Nation basis is now."

A group of walkers led by Danny Metatawabin left Attawapiskat First Nation on January 4 on a trek of more than 1,700 kilometres to Ottawa to raise awareness and call for action to honour First Nations Treaties and rights. Their route took them through many First Nations communities and they were joined by other walkers along the way. They averaged about 30 kilometres a day, walking under the banner "Reclaiming Our Steps Past, Present and Future."

"Today may be the conclusion of this historic walk but we must all continue the work of bringing life and honour to the Treaties and the inherent rights of the First Peoples of this land," said National Chief Atleo. "We must make this journey together with all Canadians for we are all Treaty people with shared responsibilities and obligations to one another. We acknowledge the tremendous efforts and spirit of the Omushkegowuk Walkers and others such as the Nishiyuu walkers who marched to Ottawa from northern Quebec last year. These are people who are inspiring others through their commitment to our cause and we honour their example."

The Omushkegowuk Walkers today gathered at the Human Rights Monument in Ottawa and walked to Parliament Hill as the final stage of their journey. A delegation was on hand to greet and support the Walkers, including representatives and staff from the Assembly of First Nations. The Omushkegowuk Walkers chronicled their journey for thousands of followers on their Facebook page "Reclaiming Our Steps Past, Present & Future":

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.


Contact information:

Alain Garon AFN Bilingual Communications Officer
613-241-6789, ext 382; 613-292-0857 or

Jenna Young AFN Communications Officer
613-241-6789, ext 401; 613-314-8157 or



Omushkegowuk Walkers reach Ottawa, call for treaty awareness

Group of 13 from Northern Ontario want to raise awareness about First Nations treaty rights

Posted: Feb 24, 2014

Cree walkers travel more than 1,700 km

Cree walkers travel more than 1,700 km 2:18

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After almost two months of walking, a group of Cree people from Northern Ontario will hold a rally on Parliament Hill today to continue raising awareness about First Nations treaty rights.

The Omushkegowuk Walkers left Attawapiskat on Jan. 4 to walk more than 1,700 kilometres. They arrived in Ottawa on Sunday.

The group, organized in part by Danny Metatawabin, grew to 18 people during the walk.

Omushkegowuk Walkers

The Omushkegowuk Walkers arrived in Ottawa Feb. 23 after walking more than 1,700 kilometres from Attawapiskat in Northern Ontario. (Waubgeshig Rice/CBC)

"The elders are the ones who have delegated us, directed us to send a strong message to Canada and all provinces that we need to have a dialogue, we need to engage all First Nations communities," he said on Sunday.

"We need to engage the grassroots of people to talk about treaties, because they're not being honoured, and that's why there's a sense of frustration."

'Lifted my spirit'

Walkers said issues such as poverty, poor housing and high suicide rates in many First Nations have led to their push for federal and provincial governments to uphold treaties and increase investments.

Gordon Hookimaw Omushkegowuk Walkers

Gordon Hookimaw said he's both happy and sad the walk is ending. (CBC)

Gordon Hookimaw said they've been overwhelmed by the support they've received.

"I didn't realize how important it was for other people across Canada, and the words I got really lifted my spirit more," he said.

"I'm sad about it. I'm happy about it. I'm happy I get to go home. But at the same, now knowing it's close, I feel like I want to go further."

"It's coming towards closure now," said walker Jean Sutherland.

"We're going our own ways, and it's kind of difficult in a way because you've grown closer to people."

similar walk from Whapmagoostui, Que., to Ottawa started with seven people in January 2013 and ended with almost 400 walkers when it reached Parliament Hill at the end of March.