Day 6: Update from Lisa

August 20, 2009

It rained last night and our tent leaked a little. Day 6 we started our walking day with a visit to Thessalon First Nation and were welcomed with a small gathering of community members. A woman named Vi welcomed us all with hugs and thanked us for doing our walk. They had tables and chairs set up outside with snacks and coffee. We were humbled to have such a warm reception. I met a few familiar faces and we talked about our walk and talked about our Grandfather’s story. I turned the video camera over to my friend Colleen who wanted to show her community for the video we are making.

One Elder named Julian invited us to the Elders luncheon and offered to give us a tour the Pow Wow grounds and the beach. The Pow Wow grounds were down on the shore of Lake Huron and there was a medicine garden and sacred fire site nearby. There were blackberry and blueberries growing all around, Gabe picked a handful and shared them with all of us. We returned to the band office and went to the auditorium for the lunch. It was a nice hot lunch with chicken, potatoes, gravy, corn and homemade bread. After lunch we said Miigwetch, Baa Maa Pii and headed east on foot. It was a good day of walking after having a big lunch.

We walked along country roads and saw a Mennonite building raising. It was incredible to see so many men working together as a building seemed to appear out of a pile of lumber. We continued walking and as the afternoon heat seemed to slow us down we found a large patch of cozy moss to rest on. I spread out a garbage bag and laid back on the soft cushion. This was 10 times softer than the therma-rest I have been sleeping on during this camping/walking trip.
We walked up a road edged with sweetgrass. Gabe and Shelley stopped to pick enough for each of us to make a braid. They hung the pony tails of grass from their back packs and I watched the sweet grass sway behind them as they walked.

Meanwhile back at the camp: our package of maps were lost to the gravel road abyss never to be seen again…

We walked and walked. We went back to camp to rest and to get ready for the next day of walking.

All for now.

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Day 6: Update from Shelley

August 20, 2009

Day 6

This morning we were getting ready to meet the folks from Thessalon First Nation.  We had contacted them before we left and asked if we could come for a visit while we were in the area.  We arrived at 10 am and there was a crowd waiting for us.  A grandmother named Vi with a big smile came to our vehicle and welcomed us and gave us a hug.  It was at that moment that I realized that I hadn’t had many hugs on this trip.  Tables had been brought outside where snacks of fresh fruit and croissants and coffee were waiting for us.  Melva, Mary, Des, Bill, Julian, Melanie, the Chief “Alfred”, Gloria and Colleen whom we knew from Midland and others were there.  It was great to see Colleen & Bruce, familiar faces.  Someone joked about half the community being out to greet us.  We talked about our journey, our Grandfather and heard of other stories of residential school survivors.  Julian suggested we go to the Pow Wow grounds and our friend Bruce drove us all there.  It was a beautiful sandy shoreline along Lake Huron and we heard stories of fishing and learned of Bobiwash Point.  Then Julian suggested we stay for the Elders Lunch.  It was an offer we couldn’t refuse.  Joining the Elders for a chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy and corn lunch with pie for dessert was a delicious meal.  We learned more of the area and I came to the conclusion that Thessalon First Nation is a very happy community.  When we left, everyone wished us well, shook our hands, gave us hugs.  I said to the Chief that we are being treated so well, it will be hard to leave.  It was a beautiful visit.  We left with full bellies and smiles on our faces.  Chi miigwech Thessalon First Nation.

Day 5: Update from Lisa

August 20, 2009

It rained last night and there were water drips on my pillow. Day 5-Our walk started about 15km west of our camp and we walked right into camp. Our walk was along country roads with views of hay fields and rolling hills of agricultural land. Mennonite farmers rode by us on their horse drawn buggies. We saw cranes and hawks and walked along some bush areas with rocks and moss. We ate sour apples off of road side trees and wondered if Grampa would have ate food from peoples gardens just to survive his journey. We thought about him eating raspberries and blueberries. Gabe tried the taste of rye from a farmer’s field.

All for now

Day Five: Sunday

August 16, 2009

I had a phonecall from Lisa last night saying that on the first day they started off at Algoma college and met many people and were given a tour. They met a man whose father had run away from Spanish R.S. and people shared many stories.(yes! i figured out how to include pics!)

Lisa, Shelley and Gabe ready to walk

Lisa, Gabe and Shelley ready to walk

They walked from here to Ojibway Park. Lisa said moleskin was a very necessary; lots of blisters.  According to the itinerary they should be somewhere between Bruce Mines and Thessalon. I hope they are good and getting energy from knowing we are all following along. Laura sent me this pic on Friday. She’s been helping them along the way setting up camp. Looking forward to hearing more from them soon. Thinking about blueberries. Every time I eat them I think of Grandpa and the many blueberry pies he ate at Shelley and Yvon’s house. It was a steady flow…

Grampa: K, Yeah, from then on we lived on blueberries for about a week, ha, when we ran away. The highway was just being built they were just blasting the highway from Sudbury to the Sault. Hey, we followed the railroad track the CPR, so we, that’s how we travelled we travelled the CPR. They coulda got us I guess they didn’t bother gettin us, cause of what he did. Think he was afraid that it already came out what he did to me.

Shelley: Who gave you the lickin’

Grampa: Well the headman of the school, he was an English man.

Yeah, I forgot what he did, I don’t know he hurt me he made mad. So I just, the next morning I just put on all the clothes that I had over the top of the others and stuffed all kinds of bread in our pockets and away we went soon as we had breakfast. Could hear where the trains tracks were we could hear the whistle eh? that’s how we found our way there as soon as we got to the tracks what came along was a hand car, railroad men “Come on boys we’re going down 5 miles down the road” so that was a pretty good ride there 5 miles. From there on that night we just crawled in the bush there and went to sleep next morning we looked for blueberries to eat, and blueberry time in July. And uh, couple a days, three days, the third day we got down to Mississauga river.

More details of day 4 we moved camp from the cabin to a camp site on Brownlee Lake. We spent the morning looking for a camp site. The first place was the Lakeside Campground in Thessalon and it was really trashed. Broken glass everywhere and apparently there were some skunks living in the bush just behind the tenting sites. Since we have our two dogs with us we decided to search on for a better campground. After checking out trailer only campgrounds we finally found a nice place at Brownlee Lake, just north of Thessalon First Nation.
Our walk was along country roads with views of hay fields and rolling hills of agricultural land. We saw cranes and hawks and walked along some bush areas with rocks and moss. Our conversations were intense and even a little stormy. We ate sour apples off of road side trees and wondered if Grampa would have ate food from peoples gardens just to survive his journey. We thought about him eating raspberries and blueberries. Gabe tried the taste of rye from a farmer’s field.

All for now

Day 4: Update from Lisa

August 16, 2009

On day 4 it was hot and sunny. We walked from Bruce Mines to Thessalon. We’re walking the back roads and noticing lots of choke cherries, raspberries, apple trees and more food right at the side of the road. There are loads of farms and gardens. People are friendly. Walking is hard on the feet, every morning involves putting moleskin on each blister before putting shoes on. Our route runs close to the train tracks and every time we come to a rail crossing we spend time on the tracks. Today we walked along the tracks to a rail bridge that went over Thessalon river. There were spaces where I could see the river water between the railroad ties. I started to walk across and had to turn back, I felt disoriented at the height. Down the track a little was a lumberyard. There were stacks of pine logs and elevators to load them onto trains.
We returned to the roadway and continued on, we walked past a house with people sitting on the front porch. They waved and asked us if we needed some water to drink. We took them up on their offer and some cold tap water, cherries and nice conversation. We were only a km or so from our end point for the day so we walked on…

All for now.

Day 3: Update from Lisa

August 16, 2009

Day 3 we moved camp to a cozy cabin on the shores of Bruce Bay just south of Bruce Mines. The cabin was built in the 1920’s and hasn’t changed much since then. Our walk started 20 km west of Bruce Bay. We walked along the country roads and thanks to the excellent maps that Melanie Desjardins made for us, we could navigate around the country side as easy as pie! We saw lots of gardens and Mennonite farmers travelling down the road in horse drawn buggies. Close to the end of our walk that day we decided to head down Caribou Rd. to get back into the town of Bruce Mines. As we approached it we noticed the dreaded “No Exit” sign!!! Luckily there was also a sign indicating that the Voyageur trail was down this road. We looked down the road and judged by the line of hydro poles that there may be a hydro corridor that we could follow to get back into town. We continued on the road and at the end found a trail, so we followed it. We talked load and sang to keep any unsuspecting bears away. The trail lead us through old chain link fences and creepy abandoned areas. Finally we could see houses ahead and we made it to Bruce Mines. A few more km and we were back at the cabin.

All for now