Go north

PL8UP7ycVV6JuvVF71J8lpGTNWQMlUs6MPUQjEvBwkM,Oq91FP7WxRFmwRk40mMsM5Qe3HlsiBj1NSZNoAS_C68I have written about Innu surgeon Dr. Stanley Vollant’s inspiring six-year 6,000-kilometre walking project several times on this site, and in publications such as The WalrusThe Globe and Mail and Windspeaker. Now, add the Nunatsiaq News — a paper that serves Nunavut — to the list. At the end of the month, Vollant and about 20 other walkers will leave Matimekush, an Innu reserve in the town of Schefferville near the Quebec-Labrador border, for a 500-kilometre walk to Kuujjuaq, just inland from Ungava Bay. It will be first time trekking overland onto Inuit land. “I think it’s very important to bring back the spirit of brotherhood between Inuit and Innu,” says Vollant. “We used to be ferocious enemies and fight over the territory of the caribou. Now we face a lot of similar challenges.” The goal of his project is to demonstrate the importance of physical activity and clean living, and of reconnecting to the land, to the past, and to one another. People can overcome any challenge, says Vollant, as long as they approach it with perseverance and resilience. “Healthy lifestyles are a way of life, not a performance,” Serge Déry, public heath director of the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, told me via email. “Being active, eating traditional foods and avoiding smoking are all part of taking care of yourself. When you take care of yourself, it becomes easier to take care of others as well as to cultivate dreams both collective and personal. Most of the time, a physically active way of life is linked to sports. People tend to forget that hiking or walking is readily accessible and easily done.”

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