Photo by Linda HeronPhoto Credit

Paddlers show solidarity for National Aboriginal Day

By Teresa Smith, OTTAWA CITIZEN June 21, 2013

OTTAWA — Everyone who took to the water near Wakefield General store Friday morning had a common goal: to paddle to Ottawa to demonstrate their opposition to what they see as the federal government’s war on water.

As part of National Aboriginal Day, 60 paddlers in about 20 canoes — two of them were Rabaskas, which seat 12 each — made the 30-kilometre journey.

After a short ceremony and prayer, the group launched into the Gatineau River at 7 a.m.

By mid-day, the line of canoes had reached Chelsea Dam, where cars, trucks and a school bus were waiting to “portage” to Lac Leamy for the final leg of the journey.

Along the way, supporters yelled encouragement from the riverbanks, cars honked their appreciation and paddlers joked and laughed their way to the capital.

But, while the trip itself brought a smile to every face, the reason for the journey is a serious one.

For many, the trip was part of Idle No More, which began over the winter in direct opposition to changes to the Navigable Waters Act contained in last year’s Conservative omnibus budget bill.