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

Squamish’s Niki Hurst and Christen Young took part in this year’s Furry Tails virtual race, a fundraiser for LAPS. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Friends take Langley animal shelter run to Squamish trails

Animal welfare group’s annual run goes virtual, raises $7,500-plus

Melissa Vandergenderen, Sandeep Chahal, Niole Garfias and Sheela Veloo had fun attracting passersby to the hot dog sale downtown Friday, May 7, 2021. The event raised funds for the Langley Seniors Resource Society Adult Day Program. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)
Langley program fires up the grill Friday for hot dog sale

Adult Day Program helps seniors and people with disabilities to remain more independent

Three vehicles were involved in a crash on the afternoon of Friday, May 7, 2021, at the intersection of Fraser Highway and 208th Street. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)
Three-vehicle Langley intersection crash leaves car on its side

There were no serious injuries resulting from a Friday afternoon crash on a major City roadway

Have an opinion you’d like to share? Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or the postal service. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
LETTER: Constituent sides with Langley MP in conversion therapy controversy

MP’s words were taken out of context, says local letter writer

Tim and Janet Kreiter with a model Tim built showing the eventual plan for a five to 10 acre community garden the couple hopes to create in Langley. A pilot project is running this spring at TWU. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
New Langley community garden almost ready for Victoria Day opening

Organizers are excited to welcome the first gardeners

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Flags flown at half mast out front of Fraser Regional Correctional Centre for slain corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa. (Neil Corbett/ The News)
Public vigil and flying flags at half mast done to honour slain prison guard

Maple Ridge corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, 29, is being remembered in a number of ways

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Mandeep Grewal was gunned down outside an Abbotsford bank in October 2018. Police said a violent gang war to control drug-line territory was going on at that time. Drug charges have now been announced against seven people. (FILE PHOTO: John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
7 people face 38 charges related to gang drug activity in Abbotsford and Mission

Police say investigation began in 2018 into expansion of Brothers Keepers’ drug line

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

Most Read