WIKWEMIKONG—Crystal Kimewon is in her second year of studies at Laurentian University and the pressure is definitely on, but come this Thanksgiving Monday, Ms. Kimewon will once again be treading the pavement, maintaining the legacy of the Wally Walk.
Wally Walk was established in 2001 and for more than a decade Walter Mishibinijima would set out from his Rabbit Island home to walk to Sault Ste Marie, Ontario raising funds to provide scholarships for former foster children entering post-secondary studies. Mr. Mishibinijima is still involved in Wally Walk.
Ms. Kimewon is a former beneficiary of a bursary from the Fostering Futures Fund through which Mr. Mishibibijima provided the bursaries.
“When Walter had told me a couple of years ago he would no longer be able to continue the walk I asked him who would carry on,” she recalled. In the end that mantle fell to her and although her studies have forced her to shorten the walk to a one-day event, she said she felt it was too important to forgo the walk this year altogether.
“After much deliberation and advice from my elders I have decided to hold the Wally Walk on Monday, October 14, only, Thanksgiving Day,” she said, adding that the day was chosen for a very symbolic reason. “This day holds enormous amounts of emotion for myself and for many children and youth in care. It is a time when many children cannot go home to their own family. A time during which we are taught to give thanks for all the blessings in our lives. Taking part in this walk on a day when we are most often surrounded by family, to walk for those who cannot be with their own, will be healing in itself. This walk has taken on greater symbolism for me as a former Crown ward and as an aspiring indigenous social worker.”
Although her university studies must remain her priority, Ms. Kimewon will set out from the Little Current swing bridge at 7 am and end in Wikwemikong at the band council chambers, where there will be a feast upon the walkers arrival. This year’s Wally Walk is expected to take nine to 10 hours to complete.
“I invite everyone to come out and join us,” she said.
The Wikwemikong Board of Education is fully behind her efforts, noted Ms. Kimewon, and she said that she hoped the Rainbow District School Board may be able to join the fold some day near in the future. “There are rules and regulations that made that impossible this year,” she said.
Meanwhile, the dream of Walter Mishibinijima to provide post secondary bursaries to foster children who have ‘aged out’ of the foster care system, yet still need the care and support of the community to succeed in getting the education that will allow them to move forward to a brighter future lives on.
Pledge forms for this year’s Wally Walk are available by contacting Crystal Kimewon at 705-688-8358 or Phyllis Williams at 705-859-1067.