After tackling a walk halfway across Canada in 2018, Kevin Redsky has now passed through the Southwest on his way to the British Columbia coast to complete his Hope in the Darkness walk.
Redsky left from Winnipeg on July 15 and is aiming to complete a 90 day walk in Vancouver on October 12 to raise awareness of youth mental health issues across the country. He completed a walk from Newfoundland to Winnipeg in 2018, but feels his original message of hope and empowerment for youth still needs to be heard.
“I don’t quite feel that that awareness that we created in 2018 was quite enough, so we’re continuing with the walk,” Redsky said during an interview along the TransCanada Highway near Webb on August 18. “It’s like a continuation or a finale I guess to finish it personally,” he said.
He noted that the media attention surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement has shone a brighter spotlight on racial inequality and policing issues in America, but Canada has an equally pressing need for change.
“We’re kind of raising the challenge even more so this year, just because of the media we see in the South with the Black Lives Matter. In our own country Indigenous involvement with police themselves, so the perception out there is the police are enforcers, and we want to make sure we challenge them to create these relationships and lets work together for a common goal – that being our overall health and well being.”
Redsky served for 17 years with the Anishinabek Police Service, and his community policing duties allow him to work closely with youth.
“Just the struggles you witness daily. We’re often first on the scene when it comes to youth/mental health crisis, and any crisis really. And just sitting with the youth and watching their struggles. The resources available just aren’t working for them, so we wanted to continue on with the walk.”
Redsky has a deeply personal reason for pushing on during this walk for youth mental health.
“I’m truly inspired by my niece that we lost seven years ago. She was caught in the child welfare system in Winnipeg. If you know anything about the Child Welfare system it’s so hard to get your family back, and unfortunately we lost her. So that’s the true inspiration.”
He said the memory of his niece helps motivate him during his often challenging walks. During the final 10 kilometres of his walk on August 17, he endured temperatures which reached 36 Celsius on the thermometer of his support vehicle. He was also on the highway during record setting heat for the next three days.
After crossing into Alberta on Monday, August 24, Redsky commented on his blog that his journey through Saskatchewan was the most difficult province to tackle during his entire walk, even compared to winter storms in Newfoundland and long lonely kilometres through Quebec.
“It’s just like life. It’s up and down out here,” he smiled. “We’re working hard, but the physical struggle that we endure out here is nothing compared to what our youth are facing out there.”
He also stressed that the walk is not just a First Nations focussed event.
“The whole intention of the walk was not to segregate. With me being First Nation I think I’m accepted more in First Nation communities. But this if for all youth.”
“We’re willing to talk and we’re willing to share.”
Redsky will soon be deviating from the TransCanada, and following the Crowsnest Highway through Lethbridge into southern Alberta and onto southern British Columbia during the final days of his walk.
For more information about the Hope In The Darkness walk for youth mental health visit their Hope in the Darkness Facebook page @walkforyouthmentalhealth or visit their gofundme.com account.