Paddlers complete month-long 850-km reconciliation canoe pilgrimage at the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory


Aug 23, 2017

Photo credit: Dominik Haake

More than 30 individuals, Indigenous, Jesuit, English and French Canadian paddlers, have completed a 26 day, 850-kilometre canoeing expedition from Midland, Ontario to Montreal, Québec in response to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

This pilgrimage has focused on deepening relationships with Indigenous and non-Indigenous People, while being immersed in each other’s customs and traditions. The Canadian Canoe Pilgrimage (CCP) was successful in beginning a significant step forward in a process that has created an awareness around fostering respect, trust, dialogue and friendship; building blocks for reconciliation.

Following a traditional First Nations canoe trade route, the CCP began in Midland, Ontario on July 21, paddled up Georgian Bay, across the French River, Lake Nipissing, the Mattawa River and down the Ottawa River to Kahnawake First Nation close to Montreal.

“This trip was physically demanding, and we were exposed to all kinds of weather from fierce thunderstorms to blazing sun,” says Erik Sorensen, 27, a Jesuit paddler and project manager for the CCP. “This pilgrimage has been about starting a process of reconciliation, and I believe we have been able to achieve this goal in simple ways, including many discussions by the fire, and sharing from elders.”

Paul Jacques, 30, an Indigenous paddler from Northern Ontario says, “It was an honour to be the trip’s navigator.” He added, “I have made friends for life on this trip, learned new skills, and I am hopeful for the future.”

The Canadian Canoe Pilgrimage continues to seek financial support, and is thankful for the many generous donors and benefactors. The Miller Group, the Ontario 150 Community Celebration Fund, the Canadian Heritage River System, Parks Canada, Ontario Parks, Jim Rook with the French River Delta Association, Mike Palmer with the Hartley Bay House Marina and numerous religious congregations and personal donors.

Also, the CCP expresses gratitude to the many communities that opened their doors to the group, especially Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, and Martyrs’ Shrine in Midland, for hosting the launch event on July 21.
The CCP is still actively fundraising to pay for the journey. Please go to: https://www.canadahelps.org/dn/30907

About the Canadian Canoe Pilgrimage
The Canadian Canoe Pilgrimage (CCP) is a project inspired by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) with the hope of encouraging intercultural and interreligious dialogue and learning. Participants, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, will be immersed in each other’s customs and traditions. Through this immersion, the goal is to foster respect, trust, dialogue and hopefully friendship — the building blocks for reconciliation.
The canoe route is a traditional First Nations trading route that was travelled by early European settlers such as Samuel de Champlain and Jean de Brébeuf, who were welcomed and guided by the Indigenous Peoples of this land. The route follows a similar one paddled by 24 young Jesuits in 1967. For more information, and to donate, please go to: www.canoepilgrimage.com.

About the Jesuits in English Canada
The Jesuits, an order of priests and brothers in the Roman Catholic Church, have worked in Canada for more than 400 years. They have responsibility for the direction of schools, churches, retreat houses, and a variety of social justice ministries that span from St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador to Vancouver, British Columbia. They have worked closely with the TRC and issued a public Statement of Reconciliation in 2013. The Jesuits are currently implementing the Calls to Action described by the TRC. For more details please visit: www.jesuits.ca.


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