Two men have begun a walk from Saskatoon to Prince Albert to press a national inquiry to visit Saskatchewan’s north.
Conrad Burns and Pernell Ballantyne gathered with supporters in the Saskatoon Police Service’s headquarters shortly after noon today before beginning their trek to Prince Albert.
Burns has completed many walks in the past, including a trek across Canada. He is hopeful that this endeavour will encourage people to listen to the voices of families in the north and motivate the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls to visit northern Saskatchewan.
“We’re very excited to hear they’ve extended the national inquiry by one year, (and) we’d like the voices of the north to be heard,” says Burns. “That’s anywhere from Prince Albert to Stony Rapids to the Black Lake area. There are a lot of people affected (there).”
Joining the veteran activist is Pernell Ballantyne. Ballantyne had completed a walk from Saskatoon to Prince Albert two years ago, shortly after learning that his sister had been killed.
Faith Bosse was at the station to support the two men. She had previously walked from Onion Lake to Saskatoon after her mother went missing in 2004 and was found dead in 2008. She spoke at the Saskatoon inquiry in November and says it had a profound effect.
“I never really got to share my side of the story, and the inquiry really helped me with that,” says Bosse. “I think it’s important for the government to realize that families have the most important things to say, because they firsthand lost that person, and sometimes families don’t get justice.”
Ballantyne and Burns are hoping to reach Rosthern tonight, before starting for Macdowall tomorrow and then crossing the Diefenbaker Bridge in Prince Albert by 3 pm on Sunday.
(PHOTO: Conrad Burns and Pernell Ballantyne stand before the MMIWG monument in Saskatoon. Photo courtesy of Travis Radke.)