According to Leanne Simpson, a scholar and storyteller from the Alderville First Nation on Rice Lake, about 150 kilometres northeast of Toronto, Indigenous communities are filled with tales of people who walked great distances to bring about some kind of change.

Walking is a way to socialize, strengthen family bonds and engage in diplomacy. In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Peter Kulchyski, a native studies professor at the University of Manitoba, says, “These walks tie into non-violent, passive civil disobedience. They can be traced back to Gandhi.”

Simpson added that the walks can forge links that at times cross cultural boundaries, offering “an opportunity for all Canadians to join in and walk alongside. This type of relationship isn’t mediated by the mainstream press or politics. And that’s one of the ultimate goals: connection.”

Traditionally, walking is a mode of transportation – it’s accessible, you don’t need a lot of equipment, you can do it throughout the year, and you don’t have to cover great distances. Research studies show that walking boosts endorphins and improves balance. Participants of these long walks have even vowed to reduce their alcohol consumption and be more active.

Whether you are walking out of necessity or for a cause, we have one thing to say: Happy National Indigenous Peoples Day!

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