Men walk from Saskatoon to Prince Albert for northern Sask. MMIWG
Conrad Burns and Pernell Ballantyne started their journey on foot from Saskatoon to Prince Albert on Friday afternoon.
The pair hopes to raise awareness for the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIWG) to make a stop in Prince Albert to hear the stories of northern Saskatchewan.
“They haven’t had a chance to speak, they haven’t had a chance to be heard,” Burns said.
“When their stories are heard and speaking their truths, it gives them the opportunity to heal. It also gives them the opportunity to have an impact on a national scale.”
Last November, when the inquiry was in Saskatoon, Ballantyne shared his story about losing his sister, Monica Burns. She was murdered outside Prince Albert in January 2015.
“I do miss her a lot and I still strive today to get her voice out there,” Ballantyne said.
Ballantyne said sharing his sister’s story at the inquiry was an important step to help his family heal.
“What happens for the loved ones that are left behind and what happens for the people who don’t have the voice to come forward? That’s why we’re walking,” Ballantyne said.
By the end of February, the inquiry will have travelled to 11 cities across Canada.
The project which started in 2016 has a deadline to produce a final report by November; however, that date could change if an extension is granted.
The national inquiry said they are working to allow people to participate.
“The 150-kilometre winter walk is an amazing demonstration of grassroots organizations and communities as they advocate to have the truth-gathering process continue for a longer duration to ensure all voices have an opportunity to be heard,” Shaylen Smith, a spokesperson for the inquiry, said.
“This winter walk will increase awareness of the critical issue of safety from violence for Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQ2S persons in Northern Saskatchewan.”
“It’s one small step of encouraging Canada to step up and fulfil the obligation they made when they started the inquiry in the first place,” Burns said.
The pair aims to reach Prince Albert by Sunday.
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