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Indigenous woman walks across Canada to raise awareness about residential schools

An Indigenous woman walks across Canada to raise awareness about residential schools.

Jasmine Lavallee, a native of The Pas, Man., had walked more than 2,000 kilometers from Winnipeg to Kamloops, B.C. last year following the discovery of unmarked graves at the former site of the Indian residential school in Kamloops.

“I do it for the people. I do it for everyone, I do it for reconciliation. I want Canada to be better tomorrow,” Lavallee told Your Morning on CTV Friday from Ignace, Ont. “I don’t want what happened yesterday to happen again tomorrow. I’m doing it for the kids. I’m doing it for my mum. I’m doing it for anyone who can’t do it themselves.”

This year, she completes the coast-to-coast journey, walking more than 3,500 kilometers from Winnipeg to Nova Scotia alongside Virgil Moar, a residential school survivor and son of a residential school survivor. In every community she passes through, Lavallee has been welcomed by friends and supporters who have accompanied her along her journey.

“When I was walking in Kamloops last year…I met a man named Travis. And he sat down with me and he started talking about how in his native community things are done in a circle,” she said. “As I continued my walk and got closer to British Columbia, I began to realize what he was saying and that my journey didn’t end in Kamloops…I kind of understood that he was telling me that I had to keep going.”

It hasn’t always been so easy for Lavallée to walk like that. She was born with dislocated hips and spent the first year and a half of her life in a mid-body cast. The doctors had said that she would most likely have to use a wheelchair all her life.

Lavallee said her trip will be a “four-way march” across North America. After reaching Nova Scotia, she plans to march north to Tuktoyaktuk, Nunavut, and south to New Orleans, Louisiana, while spreading the same message of truth and reconciliation.

“I touch the ocean in every direction on behalf of the elders, on behalf of the survivors, on behalf of the children,” she said. “I want to inspire people, you know? Show them that we care, we love them, we hear them, we see them. I want kids to know that they can do anything. they want, no matter what.”

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