SCOTT MacDOUGALL KNOWS MOVIES MAKE A DIFFERENCE. It was a movie that got him to do more than just talk about indigenous rights in Canada. He hopes a movie about what that led to will make a similar difference for many others.
The new movie is Treaty Walk (2019). It’s the story of a group of Indigenous Elders, public health care workers, representatives of faith communities and others, trekking the 350 kilometres from Edmonton to Calgary in 15 days in 2019 to bring attention to the 1876 and 1877 treaties signed between settlers and First Nations and to strengthen a dialogue of deeper understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
The walk for common ground
The organizers came to call their journey “The Walk for Common Ground” to reflect a desire to find a way to, at last and finally, accept the living reality that indigenous and non-indigenous people alike are all “Treaty people” working and living on common ground.
Treaty Walk (2019) emerged out of conversations between Scott MacDougall, a mental health therapist and HSAA (Health Sciences Association of Alberta) member and Dr. Patricia Makokis, Saddle Lake Cree Nation elder. Scott and Patricia approached the HSSAA with the idea of a walk and film. The union liked the idea a lot and provided primary support to make both possible.
The journey has an emotional impact on the walkers, many of who are healthcare professionals wanting to deepen their understanding of the Treaty and Indigenous ways of knowing. Through learning and living into the Natural Laws of Kindness, Honesty, Sharing, and Strength, they all walk to transform themselves and the communities they visit along the way.
Physical effort adds meaning
The activists hope their walk and film will continue the learning journey for Indigenous and Non-Indigenous People in Canada with guidance and strong input from the leadership and teachings of Indigenous Elders.
Allegra Friesen Epp, one of the walk’s non-Indigenous coordinators, travelled from Winnipeg, in Treaty 1 territory, to participate. She said she joined because she because in embodying her beliefs through lived action.
“It’s incredibly rich and overwhelming in the best sense of the word,” she said. “I think all of us are challenged to open ourselves to not only physical endurance, but emotional, mental, spiritual endurance and learning in this holistic approach, which I really value.”
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