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First Nation Chief walking to Ottawa for change

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WARNING: The following story contains details some readers may find disturbing.


If you’re driving down to Ottawa in the next couple of weeks you will see a convoy of people marching for change.

Chief Vern Janvier of Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation is on a mission.

Along with family and friends, the chief, whose nation calls northeastern Alberta home, left Sudbury on July 18 and is planning on being in Ottawa in about four weeks.

The reason Chief Janvier is walking alongside his convoy is many; but mainly, he wants amendments made to Canada’s Indian Act.

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“I need to walk to Ottawa and deal with the Indian Act. I need to do my job as Chief. That’s how this started,” said Janvier.

Janvier says he also wanted to feel the pain of all the kids who attended residential school. Both the ones that lived and the ones that died.

“I needed to feel some of that pain. I never attended a residential school and wanted to feel their pain. It’s something I’ve never understood,” he said.

Janvier also adds that the journey has been a spiritual one, especially with locals sharing their stories of residential schools and what they’ve been through.

“They put their trust in us. We’ve listened to them. And this part of the journey… it’s amazing in itself. It’s a healing journey for a lot of us,” said Janvier.

Janvier said the Indian Act is used to this day as a weapon against his people.

“A weapon of control and obedience and oppression. We live in Canada, in 2021, let’s get out of the days of colonialism and everybody come to an equal point in Canada. That’s what we hope to achieve. Many, many generations have suffered at residential schools. I see it every day as a Chief. We hope to garner enough support from the Trudeau government to amend the Indian act in ways that will benefit us for the future. To change the policies that put these kids in the ground,” said Janvier.

Locals have been encouraging the convoy and have gifted feathers, food, and water as well as wishes on a safe journey.

To see where Chief Vern is on his journey, you can click here.

The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available 24-hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of his or her Residential school experience or for those affected by these reports.  The 24-hour crisis line is available at 1-866-925-4419.

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