James Taylor, a member of the Mississauga Ojibwe Nation, will set out on Sept. 20 to walk from Hope back home to Greater Victoria in just five days to honour survivors of trauma and to acknowledge those who never came home. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

James Taylor, a member of the Mississauga Ojibwe Nation, will set out on Sept. 20 to walk from Hope back home to Greater Victoria in just five days to honour survivors of trauma and to acknowledge those who never came home. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

‘Each step is a prayer’: Ojibwe man will walk from Hope to Vancouver Island for Indigenous healing, reconciliation

James Taylor departs Sept. 20, returns to Saanich in five days for sacred fire

Armed only with his trusty running shoes, a positive outlook, a pink T-shirt that reads ‘Go be kind’ and a desire to connect with his ancestors, James Taylor is setting out on Sept. 20 to walk from Hope back home to Greater Victoria in just five days.

This type of marathon walk isn’t new for Taylor, a member of the Mississauga Ojibwe Nation and a “cultural history resource” for School District 61. Since 2014, he has travelled from Mile 0 to Ottawa on foot three times – five-month trips he refers to as “healing walks.” Each walk came as a response to calls from his ancestors asking him to honour survivors of trauma and “those who never came home.”

READ ALSO: Victoria man plans 30-hour walk to raise funds for vulnerable youth

Taylor began embarking on long-distance walks in 2003 after being struck by lightning in Ontario. He said he’s been hit twice in his life and the second time transformed him. He remembers spending what felt like hours in a limited space with many of his ancestors before his grandfather came to him and told him to go back, use his gift and walk.

Lightning strike survivors are referred to as “heyoka” or “sacred clowns,” he explained, noting that since the incident, he’s been more jovial, which is why his Ojibwe name is Kind Lightning.

READ ALSO: Langford racing enthusiast back in driver’s seat of life after surviving aggressive cancer

Taylor said walking across the country is “pretty hard, pretty incredible, pretty lonely [and] pretty happy.”

He’d planned to embark on his fourth and final cross-country walk in 2020, but the pandemic and an injury derailed his plans. He was disappointed, but in June, his wife pointed out that since February, he’d taken long healing walks every day and that between the local walks and the trip from Hope to Saanich, he will have walked 9,300 km – the equivalent to a walk to Ottawa and back.

He was able to see friends and family, sleep at home, save money on bandaids and use far fewer pairs of sneakers – he would have burned through about 14 pairs on a round-trip.

READ ALSO: Sooke girl who battled cancer hosting bottle drive for Tour de Rock

As with each of his healing walks, Taylor will make the journey from Hope to Saanich alone – relying on the kindness of others for meals and a place to sleep. To contribute, contact Taylor by email at walk4hope03@gmail.com and all extra funds will go into his GoFundMe page.

This walk is not only for missing and murdered Indigenous women and for residential school survivors but for all who need healing and closure. Taylor plans to make daily posts on his Facebook page, Walking for our lost relations. He welcomes anyone who wishes to join him but emphasized the need for mental preparation; “each step is a prayer,” which is why the walk draws attention to so many issues.

READ ALSO: RCMP escort beaver across busy Chilliwack road

Taylor plans to be back into Saanich on Thursday (Sept. 24). Students from Claremont Secondary School will join him on the trek down to Cordova Bay for a sacred fire and a fast, to which all are welcome.

Taylor feels this will be his final long-distance healing walk but noted that his ancestors may call on him to continue and said he’ll be happy to oblige because when the ancestors come to speak, “you’ve just got to listen.”


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

First NationsIndigenous reconcilliation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Russell Jonathon George Gurney was last seen in Chilliwack in mid-December. (RCMP photo)
RCMP ask for help to find missing Abbotsford man last seen in Chilliwack

Police and family are concerned for the well-being of Russell Jonathon George Gurney

Ottawa serial killer Camille Joseph Cleroux died of natural causes at Abbotsford’s Pacific Institution on Sunday.
Serial killer housed at Abbotsford’s Pacific Institution dies of natural causes

Camille Joseph Cleroux announced dead on Sunday, known as notorious Ottawa serial killer

Garry Blanchard of Hope won $77,000 correctly guessing the outcomes of all 13 games of NFL week 17. (Photo/BCLC)
Hope resident rakes in $77,000 in NFL Week 17 bet

Garry Blanchard won the record-breaking prize correctly guessing every outcome that week

This urn was found Jan. 4 at a Yale Road bus stop and has now been returned to its owner. (RCMP photo)
RCMP find custodian of urn that was left at Chilliwack bus stop

Police say the urn contained the remains of a family’s cat

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Ralliers gather in front of the Cityviews Village apartment building in Maple Ridge to protest attempts to evict low-income tenants by the building owner. (Ronan O’Doherty - The News)
Tenants protest pressure tactics by new landlord at Maple Ridge apartment building

Protest held in front of Cityviews Village on 223 St. Tuesday to rally against low-income evictions

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
‘You can’t make this stuff up’: Stories from the B.C. CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

Snow is forecasted to appear in parts of Metro Vancouver this weekend. (Black Press Media files)
Snow forecasted for parts of Lower Mainland this weekend

Environment Canada is predicting flurries and snow from Saturday to Monday evening

Most Read