20 Apr Young people paddle hundreds of kilometres this summer, working toward reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples
Young people paddle hundreds of kilometres this summer, working toward reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples
Toronto, ON, April 20, 2017 – More than 30 people, comprised of Indigenous, Jesuit, English and French Canadian paddlers, will embark on a month-long, 850-kilometre canoe trip July 21 in response to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Following a traditional First Nations canoe trade route, the Canadian Canoe Pilgrimage (CCP) will begin at Midland, Ontario up Georgian Bay, travel across the French River, Lake Nipissing, the Mattawa and Ottawa Rivers, and end near Montreal.
“We are retracing this historic route on the 150th anniversary of Canada as a nation, but more importantly we are trying to work for reconciliation,” says Erik Sorensen, SJ, Project Manager of the CCP. “As a member of the Jesuits, a group that had a residential school that played an integral role in colonization efforts by early Europeans, there is a collective healing that I am participating in. And we are changing the way we do things.”
“I am hoping to learn a lot about the cultures that are going to be there,” says Andrew Starblanket, who is Nēhiyaw and will be representing the Starblanket First Nation in Saskatchewan on the trip. “I guarantee that I’m going to learn a lot about myself and others.”
“Ontario’s 150th anniversary is an opportunity for us all to reflect on who we are and what we hope to be,” said Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. “The Canadian Canoe Pilgrimage will give people the chance to connect with a meaningful part of our history, experience our province’s breathtaking scenery firsthand, and contemplate all that we can achieve by working together.”
Jesuit Pope Francis promotes a “culture of encounter,” a culture where we engage others where they are at, offer welcome and hospitality, and are moved with compassion and the desire to treat all people with dignity. “This encounter is not about anything so specifically active, it’s much more about just being with each other, across our respective cultures and traditions,” says Kevin Kelly, SJ, a CCP co-organizer. “Encountering each other is about being ourselves and being open. This immersion experience into nature will also help participants increase their understanding of the current ecological crisis we face, especially the importance of water and our respect for and treatment of it.”
The CCP tentative itinerary below, shows major landfalls, but please be advised there may be changes due to logistical considerations and weather related contingencies.
July 21 – Departs Sainte-Marie among the Hurons (Midland, ON)
July 31 – North Bay, ON
August 2 – Mattawa, ON
August 6 – Pembroke, ON
August 9 – Ottawa, ON
August 14 – Montreal, Quebec
August 15 – Kahnawake First Nation (close to Montreal)
Members of the public will be able to join the CCP at special events at major stops along the route.
The Canadian Canoe Pilgrimage has been made possible by the generosity of donors including The Miller Group, the Ontario 150 Community Celebration Fund, the Canadian Heritage River System, Parks Canada, and Ontario Parks. Also thanks to Sainte-Marie among the Hurons and Martyrs’ Shrine for hosting the launch event on July 21.
About the Canadian Canoe Pilgrimage
The Canadian Canoe Pilgrimage (CCP) is a project inspired by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) with the hope of encouraging intercultural and interreligious dialogue and learning. Participants, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, will be immersed in each other’s customs and traditions. Through this immersion, the goal is to foster deep respect, trust, dialogue and hopefully friendship, the building blocks for reconciliation.
The canoe route is a traditional First Nations trading route that was travelled by early European settlers such as Samuel de Champlain and Jean de Brébeuf, who were welcomed and guided by the Indigenous Peoples of this land. This pilgrimage will begin at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons in Midland, on the shore of Georgian Bay, on July 21 and end on August 15 on the St. Lawrence River at the Kahnawake First Nation, close to Montreal. The community of paddlers making this 850-kilometre, 25-day voyage is comprised of Indigenous Peoples, Jesuits, English and French Canadians, men and women – all desiring to travel together on a path of healing and friendship. The route follows a similar one paddled by 24 young Jesuits in 1967. For more information, and to donate, please go to: www.canoepilgrimage.com.
About the Jesuits in English Canada
The Jesuits, an order of priests and brothers in the Roman Catholic Church, have worked in Canada for more than 400 years. They have responsibility for the direction of schools, churches, retreat houses, and a variety of social justice ministries that span from St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador to Vancouver, British Columbia. They have worked closely with the TRC and issued a public Statement of Reconciliation in 2013. The Jesuits are currently implementing the Calls to Action described by the TRC. For more details please visit www.jesuits.ca.
For news media and government information, please contact:
Mark Hunter LaVigne, MAJ, APR, FCPRS
For project information, and to discuss donations and grants, please contact:
Erik Sorensen, SJ