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 Saanich 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

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich residents warned to watch livestock after bear kills llama

Officers with Conservation, Saanich police could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

More than 250 riders took part in the fifth annual Tripleshot CrossFondo, which riders across parts of the Saanich Peninsula, including this field near Sluggett Farms. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Tripleshot CrossFondo rides across Saanich Peninsula

More than 250 cyclists took part in mystery-course race

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

A 23-foot sailboat that broke free from its anchor was smashed against Cattle Point during the early October south-easterly storms. (Ron Geezin Photo)
Storm-smashed boat pulled off rocks of Cattle Point in Oak Bay

Sailboat a casualty of last week’s big storms

Saanich police are warning residents to be aware of a non-aggressive bear sighting in the 400-block of Haliburton Terrace. (Black Press Media file photo)
Non-aggressive bear spotted in Saanich neighbourhood

Saanich police advise residents to be aware of sighting in the 400-block of Haliburton Terrace

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

(File photo)
RCMP: Two men face charges in reported Parksville fatal hit-and-run

Investigation into man’s death began in August of 2019

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Steven Michael Bacon pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder of Nanaimo teen Makayla Chang. (Photos submitted)
Accused pleads not guilty in Nanaimo teen’s 2017 murder

Steven Bacon appeared in Nanaimo court Monday via video link from Thunder Bay

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Kootenay couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Most Read