Participants to embark on 350 kilometre walk from Edmonton to Calgary on May 31, called the Walk for Common Ground.
Edmonton (29 May 2019) — In Alberta, a group of 30 health-care professionals, members of the faith community, school division leaders, and Indigenous people from across Treaty 6 and Treaty 7 will begin a 15-day, 350 kilometre walk from Edmonton to Calgary on May 31, called the Walk for Common Ground.
HSAA among the Organizers
Among the groups organizing the walk is the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE). “It is important for non-Indigenous people to truly appreciate the privileges we have gathered because Indigenous nations allowed our ancestors to share this land. It is equally important that we recognize that our well-being has come at a cost to the descendants of those original treaty makers that welcomed our ancestors here. We must all now apply our minds coherently and co-operatively to building a different relational model,” said Scott MacDougall, a mental-health therapist at St. Therese - St Paul Healthcare Centre, and a member of the board of directors of HSAA/NUPGE.
“It’s not enough to talk about truth and reconciliation, it has become a social, economic, and environmental imperative that we actually do something to create a solution,” he said.
To that end, HSAA/NUPGE, the union that represents about 26,000 health-care professionals, has tasked its Social Justice Committee to connect with the other like-minded faith groups, citizens, and Indigenous leaders to begin facilitating this dialogue for change.
NUPGE National Office Offers Support
On behalf of the NUPGE national office NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer Elisabeth Ballermann offered a contribution to the walk, and sent a letter of support to HSAA/NUPGE commending their role in organizing it. "Reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous peoples is of national importance,” Ballermann said, “and having a Component organize this walk is cause for pride for NUPGE and all its Components.” She added, “I am so pleased to see HSAA/NUPGE, my home union, engage so meaningfully in the efforts towards reconciliation.”
Participants Will Stop at Communities Every Night
Embarking on the Walk for Common Ground, the core group of 30 walkers will stop at communities every night, sleeping in churches, colleges, and community centres. They will be joined by other interested citizens walking for the day, over portions of the journey. Every day will begin with smudging ceremonies and end with the presentation to host community members of the documentary Treaty Talk: Sharing the River of Life. Following the film, audience members will be asked to join a talking circle, as a means to reflect on the impact of the film and determine how each individual can contribute to more meaningful change in our relationships with Indigenous peoples.
Walkers will hold events at the following communities: Edmonton, Beaumont, Leduc, Millet, Wetaskiwin, Maskwacis, Ponoka, Lacombe, Red Deer, Innisfail, Bowden, Olds, Carstairs, Crossfield, Airdrie, and Calgary.
The schedule is available as a PDF here.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE