UPDATED 10:30 p.m
INDIAN BROOK – About 100 people travelled from Shubenacadie to Indian Brook to honour residential school survivors during an Idle No More event held Sunday.
Approximately 30 participants covered a portion of the 10-kilometre route with about 20 trekking the entire distance. Many more followed in cars.
The event meant plenty to Indian Brook resident Dorene Bernard, who was one of more than 1,000 First Nations children from Atlantic Canada who attended the residential school in Shubenacadie from the 1920s until the late 1960s.
“It was very honouring for all of us,” said Bernard, who attended the school for four years. “In my family three generations went to the residential school.”
Indian Brook resident Isabella Knockwood also was a student at the residential school and organizers presented her with an eagle feather.
“This means a lot to me,” she said. “I’m glad we were able to hold this here.”
The walkers stopped at the Shubenacadie railway station to commemorate children who were sent to the school by train before finishing the march. RCMP officers provided an escort them along the way.
“It was cold outside but we were warm in sprit,” said Molly Peters, an Idle No More organizer. “We’re happy with the way things went today. “
Co-organizer Shelley Young was grateful to help honour the residential school survivors.
“My grandmother was one,” said the Eskasoni resident. “They tried hard to take the Indian out of the child. They stripped us of our language and we had to fight hard to keep it alive.”
Young added that the Indian Brook walk and a second walk being held today in Halifax are being called the Trail of Fire walks because the Idle No More movement, which gained prominence in First Nations communities before Christmas in protest of the government’s controversial Bill C-45, has brought fire back into their hearts.
“Youth are walking from northern Quebec to Parliament now in temperatures like -40 (in protest of the government’s controversial Bill C-45),” she said. “They’re walking for us and we wanted to walk with them and support them.”
Eleanor Michael, of Indian Brook, took part in previous Idle No More events and was very pleased to see something in her home community.
“I think it is amazing that this area went from a place with its language taken away to a place where this has been reversed,” she said. “Children are now learning Mi’kmaq from Primary to Grade 12.”
The youth council, assisted by Tina Nevin Sack and Vanessa Nevin, provided a hot meal to help walkers warm up after the cold walk. Those who gathered also joined in music, prayers and dancing.