Starting near Quarry Park in Calgary on June 13, Dan Boudreau, who lives in High River, and his friend Stefan Campbell took to the shoulder of Highway 2.
"The whole journey is a march for awareness, and our own little sacrifice for our people as well,” said Boudreau, a Métis father of three who was born in Calgary and descended from Manitoba Métis near Saint Laurent.
The walk occurred approximately two weeks after 215 graves for students from the Kamloops Indian Residential School were discovered.
Starting at 7:30 a.m. the two men walked for nearly 12 hours, making their way past Okotoks and along Highway 552 to the site of the former Dunbow Industrial School. Seventy-three students were known to have died at the Dunbow school. A memorial sits at the site.
They did so carrying the Métis flag flying on a 100-pound piece of 35mm thick rebar.
“Everyone still carries that weight, our people still carry that weight to this day,” said Boudreau, adding he and Campbell are both iron workers.
Campbell, a status Indian from the Fort Alexander Reserve near Winnipeg, said he was motivated by his mother, who survived the residential school system.
“She witnessed a lot of abuse,” Campbell said. “She had heard of people dying in the school she went to.”
His mother eventually ran away, unable to cope with abuse at the school.
“It’s crazy what they had to go through,” he continued.
“So I’m not doing this for me, I’m just trying to be here and raise awareness so people can have a better understanding of the issue that’s been hidden and swept under the rug.
“There’s not a whole lot of action, except those that really want to take a lead and help.”
The pair was escorted by Boudreau's partner Michele Edwards, who followed them on the shoulder in her van, adorned with posters stating “Every Child Matters”.
They reached the site along 2253 Drive E near the banks of the Highwood River around 7 p.m. and held their flag aloft near the Dunbow school monument before they came to rest on the ground.
While exhausted, Boudreau said he was satisfied with his accomplishment.
“It was everything I planned for it to be,” he said, adding he had previously visited the site.
“It’s very emotional coming down here.”
The two also started a GoFundMe page to fundraise for awareness around indigenous and Métis children who were victims of Canada's residential schools. To see the page click here.
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