Leaders, community join grads on Treaty 4 Walk from Lebret to Fort Qu’Appelle

Despite inclement weather in Saskatchewan, many trekked through rain and mud Friday for a Treaty 4 Honour Walk for this year’s high school graduates.

Community members and leaders joined graduates from various communities in Treaty 4 territory, northeast of Regina, on a walk in recognition of their achievement.

The walk began at the old residential school in Lebret and ended at the Treaty 4 governance building in Fort Qu’Appelle – a distance of about eight kilometres – which took an hour and a half to complete.

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“It essentially was an honoring of the all of the students who never made it,” said David Still, Peepeekisis Pesakastew School principal.

“(The children) did not get an opportunity to graduate due to circumstances that overcame them in the residential schools. And so that was the reason that we wanted to start off from that point.”

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The event was made a reality thanks to Vera Tourangeau, a teacher at Peepeekisis Pesakastew School, building on an idea from the students – to walk for not only themselves but for those who could not be there.

“It was important because to me … just to help those who are on that on that path (of) alcoholism and all that,” said Montana Bellegarde, Peepeekisis Pesakastew School graduate. “You don’t have to go down that path. Show all the youth and the kids who couldn’t make it that you’re enough and that you don’t need to go down that road.”

The walk had a police escort to ensure the safety of the walkers. Chiefs from Peepeekisis First Nation, Starblanket First Nation, Fishing Lake First Nation and Cote First Nation walked with the graduates down the final stretch to their destination.

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A congratulatory meal and speeches were held at the governance building where a ceremonial walking stick was handed down from the Peepeekisis First Nation to Fishing Lake community where they will need to carry on the newfound tradition next year.

“We’re looking forward to watching this grow over the years,” said Still. “We’re just really proud to be able to be the initiates of this of this walk and that we’re hoping that it’s going to continue to grow every year.”

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