The fifth and final Healing Walk represents a milestone for local communities affected by Oilsands development. The final Healing Walk does not mean the problems faced have been solved, rather organizers say they have achieved the goals set out from the original Healing Walk, and it is time to move forward. The Healing Walk has successfully let local communities know they have support in facing the rapid industrialization of their home territories, as well as raised local and international awareness, and brought people together to pray for the land. Organizers feel it is time to support communities both in and now beyond the Athabasca.
The Healing Walk this year will help move discussions forward and will include planning for events in new communities next summer, and planning on how to support more communities. Co-organizers R.A.V.E.N trust say, “While this may be the final Healing Walk in Fort McMurray, it is the beginning of the next stage of the journey.” They ask that as many people as possible please come and join help plan for the future.
This years Healing Walk will start on June 27th at Indian Beach on Gregorie Lake where the Keepers of the Athabasca will host a meet and greet so that groups will have an opportunity to make connections, share stories and participate in ceremony, as well as workshops. The 13 km walk on June 28th will travel through some of the most affected and contaminated parts of the Oilsands. The walk will finish with a celebratory feast, where all are welcome. And the final closing ceremony will take place on June 29th.
Jonathan Ventura is the web assistant with One River, Many Relations. His formal education in environmental policy & law, as well as his passion and experience in community based research and mobilization brings a unique perspective to the project.