Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Northern teens' canoe trek paddles to a finish Friday

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FOURTEEN people will finish retracing the steps, or waves, of their ancestors when they make the last stop of their 890-kilometre canoe journey at The Forks Friday.

The Ininiwi Aski Quest is a 19-day trip started at Pimicikamak Cree Nation, and is meant to get the youth there connected to nature and their environment, said Ronnie Beardy, vice-chief of Pimicikamak and co-ordinator of the trip.

Pimicikamak is on Cross Lake, south of Thompson.

"We've used the canoe quest as a place for the young people to identify themselves as indigenous people, and to find their potential. Every one of us is capable of something totally extraordinary," Beardy said.

This year's trip is special because the group is advocating for the protection of Lake Winnipeg, which is a large part of the trip, Beardy said.

"The traditional belief is that the Mother Earth is the source of life, and the water is the vein that sustains her, and we wanted to reach out to the world to find solutions with all our technology and all our know-how, that me must... minimize the impact we have on her," he said.

The group visited communities on the east side of the lake during their trip, telling people their stories and about their efforts.

The trip has not been without its problems. The warrior canoe they were paddling broke down, and they had to get driven to where a replacement canoe could be sent.

"It's been quite an eventful trip, but we made it by paddling, and some motorized (vehicles)," Beardy said.

The group has organized a reception when they arrive at the Forks Friday, but he said he's inviting as many people as possible to come and cheer their arrival. "(The) dream is that we hear the sound of a thousand drums on our arrival," Beardy said.

oliver.sachgau@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 25, 2013 B3

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