Walk across Canada for Missing & Murdered Indigenous People

May 30, 2023, 3:49 pm
Sierra D'Souza Butts

Cameron and Charity West passed through Moosomin last Wednesday during their walk across Canada for Missing and Murdered Indigenous People.

An Indigenous couple—Charity and Cameron West—are walking across Canada to bring justice and action for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People across the country.

“The issue is Missing and Murdered Indigenous People across the nation and that includes men, women and children,” said Charity.

“I know women have gotten a lot of coverage and that’s great because it needs to be brought up, but we also need to speak about our men because our men are going missing and being murdered at a staggering rate.”

The couple passed through Moosomin, Saskatchewan on May 24 during their walk across Canada.

Cameron said they are aiming to attract media attention along their journey.

“We’re just trying to make the issue loud,” said Cameron.

“If we can get media attention like this and you guys spread the word, then the people higher up can’t ignore us anymore.”

Although there are statistics on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, there seems to be limited to no reports on the number of Indigenous boys and men who have, and continue to go missing all over Canada.

“British Columbia has the highest missing adults nation wide, and Manitoba is second to that,” Charity said.

“It’s something that needs to be addressed and talked about at the higher levels.

“We never know how anything is going to go the next day during our walk, but we just keep going. No matter where we stop we meet someone that is amazing and encouraging, and just so supportive so we know we’re on the right path. We walk in faith.”

Hope to find answers to missing family member
One of the key reasons Charity chose to walk was to bring justice for her son’s father who went missing 11 years ago and still has not been found.

“This is just a reality that we’ve grown up living. You hear about everyone going missing and it’s always just been something that happens, until it happened to myself and my son,” she said.

“I don’t think anyone can understand the pain when your child is so small and you have to explain that to him.

“Yesterday was really hard for me because not only was it 11 years since anyone has last seen my son’s dad, but we also lost a member of our community.

“When you come from a community that’s only 300 people, every loss is monumental, especially when you grow up with them and when you work with them.

“It was a really tough day, but I ended up getting in contact with some people here in Moosomin and they were absolutely amazing. The kindness and compassion, and the energy was just beautiful.”

Having support from people and communities throughout the journey has been helpful, said Cameron.

“We got invited to the Cowessess Powwow, they did a name change to the Arbor to Rook Sparvier, and it was just so humbling for us for them to welcome us there,” he said.

“While we were there, Charity said it felt like we were at home.”

“It’s tough being away from all of our family,” added Charity.

With the challenge of missing home and family members throughout their walk, as well as continuously seeing reports on missing and murdered Indigenous people, the couple was asked what helps them push through.

“People who reach out to us, people who stop to say hi or honk when we’re walking,” said Cameron.

“Not only that, but when you start to doubt yourself I’ll see another post from people supporting us,” added Charity.

“Also last night there was a post about another girl who went missing in Prince George at 16 years old, but she was found safe in Winnipeg.”

Goal of reaching St. John’s, N.L.
Cameron and Charity started their walk in Siksika Nation, Alberta and plan to finish in St. John’s, Newfoundland by end of July.

With the goal in mind of raising the issue to as many people as they can across Canada, Charity said she is happy to be part of the many groups who are also walking to bring more attention about the continued number of Missing and Murdered Indigenous people.

“We’re not the only ones, there’s multiple groups going east, going west, and we’re hoping that with those multiple groups that maybe it will get the attention that it deserves and maybe we’ll get some real changes,” she said.

“There needs to be some fundamental changes on how crimes against Indigenous people are handled.

“We want the country to be the best that it can be, and once we deal with how the people are being targeted for this, that trickles down to all demographics. The fact that we get to do this walk for our home country is beautiful, and I really hope it results in some discussions and real changes.

“Each group is getting attention from a different place, and I think that’s a beautiful thing. I think it’s so beautiful that so many people selflessly involved themselves in this because we left everything.

“Our son got us a renter for the house, we left absolutely everything because it’s that big of an issue.

“My main reason is we’re going to have grandchildren and we don’t want them to be vulnerable to be in another statistic.

“At the rate things are going right now, that’s how things are. We want to make this better for future generations, and by making it better for our Indigenous population we’re making it better for all of Canada.”

To help bring awareness about all of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People, including men and boys (MMIB) and women and girls (MMIWG), Cameron and Charity West are walking along Highway 1 to take action. Above is the view behind their truck.