it’s been a while

January 9, 2010

It has been a while since we last posted anything on this blog. It’s now January 9th and since August I have been working on art pieces that relate to the trek though I’ve not started the process of editing the video footage from the trek. I have viewed the tapes and feel like I need to return to the route of the trek, and in my return I will do some research at the Shingwauk archives.

all for now



August 26, 2009

We slept in this morning, enjoyed leisurely cups of coffee and made a list of recommendations for the next Residential School Trek around the picnic table.  If anyone else in our family were to do this, this compilation will help them prepare and make the most of the trip from our experience.  Debriefing was great.  I love all the special gifts that we brought together to make this happen.  Camping with 2 cooks was incredible.  We ate really well, nutritious meals, even exotic meals!  I have never enjoyed so many condiments as I have during this trip.

The shower felt great this morning!  As we disassembled the tents and gear, I felt sad that our project, our time together was now coming to a close.  I am grateful for the amazing time I’ve had with my family, for their support and the role they are playing as I consider my next challenge.

I realize how peaceful the walk and camping was and how nurturing that was.  I think I’m going to camp more and be aware of having those quiet times, seeking that serenity.

I want to thank Laura for her integral role as Logistics Coordinator.  I so appreciated not having to make all those decisions about where we were going to camp or cabin, so I had more energy to walk.  I needed every ounce of it.  As she put it, the first day we walked into camp at Ojibway Park from Algoma U College, we “collapsed”.  Chi miigwech Laura for everything you did to support us on this journey.

Lisa- I love you my dear cousin, thank you so much for agreeing to walk with me on this journey.  I am so glad we could do this together and support each other along the way.  I’m grateful for the time together.

Gabe- thank you son for being the only great grandchild to join in on the journey.  It was great to do this with you and I hope this has broadened your horizons and given you strength to embark on other challenges.

Mary-Many miigweches for your at home support, setting up this blog for us.  I appreciate it being able to share this journey with others.  Thanks for seeing the importance of this aspect of the trip.

Yvon-Thanks for your support, the mid trip visit and the cooking.  It was great to come to the cabin after a day of walking and enjoy the wonderful meal you prepared for us.  It was great to have you drop us off and pick us up too.  Miigwech.

I know the teachings I have received on this journey will continue to reveal themselves.  I look forward to the film that will be produced from this Trek and being able to share it.

All my relations,


(note this was originally posted Aug. 25th)


August 25, 2009

Note: this was originally posted Monday, August 24th.

WE DID IT!!!  We walked from Massey to Espanola today at a distance of 27 kms!  It was a beautiful sunny day, we saw a bear cross the road not far ahead of us, we heard whooping cranes cry out with their prehistoric shreeks, we bought butter tarts from a Mennonite family and ate lunch at their picnic table, we were honked at by a carload of Anishinabe women while we exchanged smiles and we witnessed the stunning remains of the mountains as we walked along Lee Valley Road.  The woman with the tarts told us Espanola was 15 miles away, and we thought, well, we have tomorrow to finish this journey if we don’t make it today.  Laura, our amazing Logistics Coordinator was scheduled to pick up us at 7:00 pm, and when she got there, we were on the outskirts of Espanola, but we wanted to continue all the way to Hwy. 6.  She went ahead to see how far it was and came back with one finger up.  One km!! We walked even faster with a couple of stops to video the water tower.  Laura went to the finish line and waited for us.  We talked about what we would do to celebrate and Lisa’s was the best suggestion: orange pop with ice cream; a creamsicle float!  So at approximately 7:30 pm, we made it into Espanola along Barber Road and Hwy. 6.    We’re on a high right now, not only achieving a personal best day of 27 kms, but also finishing the whole journey!

We’re heading back to the camp site, Chutes Provincial Park and plan a dinner of cheese dogs with pop around a bonfire.  We’ll rest our feet and talk about the stories of the day.  Pictures are forth coming.  Thanks for all your support, we appreciate it and it helped us along the journey.

(please read on for additional updates)

Lisa here, just want to add that we started this day 12 by visiting the Medicine Camp at Sagamok First Nation. I saw a sign on in Massey pointing the direction of the Medicine camp and realized that I might know a person or two there. Sagamok is just south of Massey on the shores of Lake Huron. We were happy to take a little time to visit with Edna Manitowabi and meet Cathy Bird there at the camp. After our visit we drove back to our start point in Massey and started our day of walking along Lee Valley Road towards Espanola.  A lady stopped her car to warn us of a bear up ahead on the road. I think Shelley explains the rest best in the writing above.

all for now


August 25, 2009

On day 10 we walked from Spragge to Cutler. Andre joined us on our walk for this day, he was great company especially for Gabe. We walked east along the railway tracks. There were no roads to cross but there was one bridge. Up ahead of us, just before the bridge, we saw a black bear. He was following the tracks too. He looked back at us a couple of times but soon trotted down to the bush and we didn’t see him again. I started to get concerned about getting bck out to the highway from the train tracks in time for our ride back to camp.  Just as I started to wonder about getting to a crossroad or highway we noticed a trail. It was wide enough for a car and we figured it must lead to a road. We followed the trail to an area where there were high rocks on the left hand side. Andre climbed the rocks to see if he could see the highway. He called down to us that he saw a house and a driveway. We all climbed up and walked through the yard of a modern house and down the driveway to a road. We met two young men on the road and asked them where we were, they told us “Cutler” and asked where we came from? I explained the journey we were on they told us we were crazy to walk that far. I said thank you! and continued the walk to the highway. We walked for a short time along the highway to Serpent River First Nation and waited at the Pow Wow grounds for our ride back to the camp.

When we arrived back at the cabin Yvon made dinner for us while Gabe and Andre paddled across the lake to a high rocky hill/mountain. They climbed to the top where we could see them only with the zoom on my video camera. After a great dinner we sat on the back deck looking over the water, Laura fished off the dock and I watched the sunset.

Day 11 we moved camp to Chutes provincial park in Massey. Moving camp is lots of work but with the extra help of Yvon and Andre it went smoothly. Yvon and Andre said good bye to us from Chutes, Gabe decided he wanted to go home with them. I was sad and disappointed that Gabe was leaving but nothing could change his mind. He was happy he did the 200 km of the 250 km trek and that was enough for him. I am thankful for the connections I made with Gabe on this trip and happy I crossed the bridge with him. Shelley and I said our good byes checked out the water falls at Chutes before we continued our walk along the train tracks.

All for now


August 25, 2009

On day 9 we walked from Blind River to Spragge.  On our way to the start point of the walk that day we revisited the bridge Mississaugi River Bridge at Mississauga First Nation. I wanted to get another picture of us on the bridge as well as attempt to walk across the bridge. I was shooting more video on the bridge and gradually walking out farther. I walked back off the bridge and Laura said to Gabe, “hey, what if you had to balance across on just the rails?” So Gabe started balancing on the rails and I walked beside him. We didn’t need any physical support from each other but I felt it really helped me to think I was supporting him as he balance beamed across and it helped that he was there for me. Gabe was so taking care and periodically asking me if I was okay. I made it across the bridge and I was so happy! I looked around at a spot where there were flat rocks and thought about the spot where Grampa would have had a meal with people cooking on the shore of the river. After taking some pictures we walked back across. I was so satsified to do it and I felt my visit at the bridge was complete.

We started our walk in Blind River and walked along trails that ran parallel to the trans Canada hwy. These trails were lined with berries-blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. We stopped often to get berries. It poured rain on us and we took shelter in the bush. The rain let up and the sun came out. Sun and rain, sun and rain…  Our trails took us along Lake Lauzon and across bridges over rivers. We saw interpretive plaques in French, English and Ojibway describing the logging history of lake Lauzon and the surrounding area.

At the end of our walking day we returned to the cabin to relax and make dinner. Yvon and Andre arrived for a two night visit. We all sat down to dinner and caught up, sharing stories of the past week with each other.

All for now.


August 25, 2009


I want to give you an update on the events in our journey from Day 8 to Day 12. Shelley gave a wonderful description of day 12 so I will continue with back at day 8!

On day 8 my sleep was interupted by puddles in my tent and heavy rain pounding down. We were rained out at the camp so we moved camp to a cabin north of Blind River on lake Duborne.  We caught up on our blog entries, articles and emails. Shelley was working on an article about our walk for Anishnabek News.

We contacted our cousin Tom Dumont and went to his house for supper. He lives on the shores of lake Huron in a cozy house with his wife Marlene. His house literally hangs over the shore of the lake and as I walked close to the floor to ceiling window I felt like I was floating above the surface of the waves.

We had a delicious lasagna dinner with garlic bread. Thanks for that Marlene!

We looked at photo albums and had lively discussions touching on a range of subjects like family, linguistics, philosophy, identity, mining, culture and the regional history. Tom had stories about the family and talked about his Grandma Dumont (my Great Grandmother). He talked about what a strong woman she was raising 12 children after her husband Octave Dumont died. She could be strong and stern but nurturing and gentle with her Grandchildren. I remember my mother (Rose) talking about her Grandmother, who lived on the Dumont farm in Carling Township and had a drawer full of cookies. I think I remember my mom talking about homemade ice cream with cream fresh from the cow. My mom loved her Grandmother.

Tom told me I looked like my mom and that I have “Dumont eyes”. I felt happy to have someone see my mother in me, my mom passed away in 1989 and I miss her often. I carried a little picture of her on this journey.

Tom said kind things to all of us and I was so happy to introduce him to my partner Laura!

All for now

Day 7: Update from Lisa

August 20, 2009

Day 7 No rain last night so I had a better sleep! Our walk continued along Dayton Road 15 km east of Thessalon First Nation, we planned to walk all the way to the Mississaugi River railroad bridge where Grampa talked about hearing people fishing and cooking down by the river. This place is significant as it was the first time he heard his language and found comfort and safety since running away from the school.

We walked along quiet country roads today surrounded by fields of hay and in some areas bush, rocks, moss and sweetgrass. We started out around 10:30 am excited about getting to the railway bridge. By noon we were hungry so we found a nice flat rock to sit on perched up from the road. Just as we were settling into our meal a truck drove by, it was a municipal works truck and I noticed a Native guy driving. Shelley stared at the driver and then yelled “hey, hey, that’s Tom Dumont!” We all jumped up and ran after the truck, luckily it stopped and Shelley asked the man, “are you Tom Dumont?” and he said yes. Shelley explained who she was and who we were and explained that we are relatives. Just to let you know Tom Dumont is Uncle Tom and Aunt Gladis’ son. He lives in Thessalon and Shelley had mentioned we should call him but we didn’t get around to it. He had been driving some summer students around the county to show them the area and happened to drive along this back road where we were settling into a lunch at the roadside. Tom is my mom’s and Shelley’s dad’s first cousin, which makes him my second cousin. He greeted me saying “Are you one of Johnny Myers’ daughters?” I told him I was and he reminded us we are cousins. We explained the journey we were on and he told us he remembered hearing about Grampa running away from residential school story. He said that Grampa was afraid to talk about it even as an adult. Tom was so encouraging to us and gave us a map of the area so we could get to the bridge. He told us the train comes around 5pm-6pm, so we should aim to get there earlier. We talked for about half an hour he invited us over tomorrow night for a visit. He had to get back to work so he left us to our lunch and our new map!

We returned to our lunch all of us a little in shock of the amazing coincidence. Tom Dumont was so supportive and encouraging to us, it was really wonderful. After lunch we continued on towards the bridge, we realized for time sake we should take highway 17 to get to the railway tracks. Laura eventually came to meet us on the highway in the car so we could have her take some video and photos of all 3 of us on the bridge. We entered Mississaugi First Nation and found the dirt road that led to the tracks. Laura and I went to park in the shade for the dogs as Shelley and Gabe headed straight to the tracks and bridge. They had already gone across the bridge and back by the time I got to the bridge. It is a metal bridge, Tom Dumont said it hasn’t changed since before our Grampa had walked on it. He said that we will be walking on the very same metal our Grandfather walked on. The Mississaugi river is wide with strong currents and rocky shores. I tried to walk across this railway bridge and at a certain point of crossing I could see the rocks below through the gaps between the railway tracks and it made me dizzy. I couldn’t cross. I was disappointed with myself. I had been tree top trekking with the youth group at Enaahtig and recall one young boy who had such a difficult time with the heights that day. I could totally relate in this moment. I really wanted to do it, I thought my Grandfather did this so I want to do this but it didn’t happen that day.

We visited a house right on the river and next to the tracks. We talked to a Grandmother there who told us that there were a few houses on the river and an old trading post. She said that lots of people lived by the river in the summer time to fish. She lived there with her friendly family. We were thankful for her knowledge of the history of the area.
We were also thankful for her Grandson’s booster cables when we returned to the car to find our battery dead. It was a great day and the pain of my sore feet and blisters is fading in the background as this journey gets richer with the warm reception of family and community.

All for now.