Pilgrimage passes through Burlington - walking to Parliament in Ottawa.

News 100 redBy Donna Flemming Zaffino

April 26th, 2017



On my way to run errands I spotted a group of people walking with banners and signs eastwards from the downtown core on Lakeshore Road. As an amateur photographer I saw a terrific photo opportunity, quickly turned my car around, caught up to the group who were now past Seneca Rd on Lakeshore.

They’re quick.

When asked if I could take a photo and what their message was I was met with bright smiles and a glowing welcome. A conversation started.

The Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights (PFIR) is a group of dedicated walkers on their way from Kitchener, ON to Parliament Hill in Ottawa to call on all members of Parliament to vote yes to enact Bill C-262 – “An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”.

Zaffino picture - walkers

A stop in Burlington for those walking a pilgrimage for the rights of the Indigenous people. They are walking from Kitchener to Ottawa.

The private member bill was drafted by Romeo Saganash (Cree Nation) the NDP MP for Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou. The Bill was tabled in the House of Commons on April 21, 2016 for First Reading where it still sits today.

The group consists predominantly of Christians from various churches. Their mission “we are seeking to make right our relationships with host peoples in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.” PFIR reports there is a total of 50 registered walkers. Not all will be taking on the entire challenging journey.

This group of 21 walkers had just had a lunch break at Spencer Smith Park and were on their way to Oakville.

A van followed them with supplies and acted as a safety vehicle. They have a busy schedule each day. At night they have arrangements with various churches along their route. The church provides them dinner, a place to sleep, breakfast and then they are on their way again.

Their excitement was contagious.

Their message is important – do all of us understand what we did to the indigenous people of this country from the late 50’s to 1985? It wasn’t something to be proud of – there is a need to make those mistakes right.

Terry Fox once ran through Burlington – look at the difference he made – the rest of us are in a position to do something equally as important.

Something to remember.

Donna Fleming Zaffino is a Burlington resident with a camera and a passion to capture images of important events.

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