rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Activist Communique: The Journey of Nishiyuu and the power of First Nations spirituality

It began with a vision.

For those unfamiliar with First Nations spirituality -- while in no measure homogeneous or pan-Indian -- there is a recurring, ancient understanding of the power of visions.

David Kawapit, 18, had a vision of a wolf facing a bear.

This is how the journey of Nishiyuu began.

The Nishiyuu walkers travelled 1600 kilometers from Whapmagoostui First Nation (Cree) -- which sits at the mouth of the Great Whale River on the border of both Cree and Inuit territory in Quebec's James Bay Treaty area.

They were a small number at first, travelling through forest and bush where there are no roads with the help of snowshoes, camping out in tents at night. The roughly two month journey began with seven community members and swelled by the end to an estimated 300 walkers; some with drums, others carrying Eagle Staffs and flags.

They walked under the bright winter sun and through blizzards to bring attention to the numerous issues facing First Nations communities today; from the lack of clean drinking water to inadequate, 'Third-World' housing conditions.

When the walkers arrived at their final destination of Ottawa yesterday, they were greeted by thousands and the lighting of a Sacred Fire. People lined the roads as if waiting for Terry Fox or the Queen of England. 

It was a beautiful sight. The second I tracked down the Livestream link, I was fixed to the screen. I stopped beading because my eyes were blurry from tears of joy. We all need victories. Nevermind that Prime Minister Stephen Harper did not attend the welcome. The walkers should own this moment. You only live once (YOLO).

As the Livestream camera and reporter Shanger-from-Iceland toured through the crowd to interview people, I was struck by the humbleness of the walkers and their supporters -- in contrast to that of current Assembly of First Nation (AFN) Chief Shawn Atleo and Matthew Coon Come who also spoke yesterday.

When set upon by Shanger-from-Iceland to an online audience that spanned, "every continent but Antarctica," there was a quiet pride and plenty of humour. There were tears. There was gratitude for the warm welcome and feast in the walkers' honour just as there was gratitude towards the walkers for suffering for the people.

Just as Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat (a fellow Cree) had a vision which led to her infamous hunger strike, 18 year old David Kawapit had a vision for his peoples too.

Idle No More is alive and well, in the spirit of the 11 year old girl who joined the walkers after pleading with her parents to let her join.  She wanted to march in support of the hundreds of missing and murdered Indigenous women across Turtle Island.

Bindigen, Nishiyuu walkers to Ottawa, you might not understand yet -- you must be exhausted and need time for the impact to set in -- the sheer impact your courage has had on the Indigenous sovereignty and solidarity community, but know from the bottom of our hearts that we thank you.

'Chi Miigwetch. Ollu Giitu. Know that last night in Toronto, we sang the AIM Unity song in your honour.

Thank you for sharing your vision with us.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.