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FPHL Department team holding paddles and posing for a group photo in the FPHL Gathering Space

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Great Walk Celebrates 50 Years of Friendship between University and Curve Lake First Nation

Trent University and Curve Lake First Nation community members recreate 50 year old walk to symbolize friendship and reconciliation

On January 27, 1968 more than 200 hikers walked 17km from Trent to Curve Lake to celebrate the friendship between the University and local First Nation. Nearly 50 years later on September 22, 2018, close to 120 hikers gathered to recreate the walk as a symbol of Trent’s commitment to engaging with reconciliation.

The day began in Champlain College’s Great Hall with an opening prayer by Trent professor, Elder Doug Williams, followed by remarks from Trent’s founding president, Dr. Tom Symons, and Curve Lake Elder, Dr. Keith Knott – both of whom participated in the original walk. Dr. Symons noted that he was wearing the same hat from 1968.

Led by the Curve Lake Eagle Staff and the flags of Trent University and Curve Late, Trent alumni, staff, students, faculty, and Curve Lake community members kept their spirits high along the trek, sharing stories and breaking bread over lunch at the halfway mark. Continuing into the late afternoon, the final kilometre had a cinematic air as the participants took to voyager canoes to paddle across Chemong Lake.

“Throughout the walk it was easy to become distracted by the physical challenge, but what was so special about it was coming to the realization that the physical reaction is so small in comparison to the meaning of the walk,” said recent Trent alumna, Mary Carswell-Gates ’14. “With reconciliation becoming more and more common in the Canadian conversation, putting aside your own experience to take note of what reconciliation is incredibly grounding. The walk was one day, but the process of reconciliation is long and ongoing – this was an initial step for many people in attendance.”

The day concluded with the presentation of two plaques that would act as a physical reminder of the bond between Trent and Curve Lake with one being placed in each location. As an additional gift, Chief Phyllis Williams was presented with a Champlain College scarf to commemorate students’ dedication to reconciliation.

“Seeing the commitment from everyone in attendance towards the meaning behind this walk was incredible,” remarked Trent Biology student and Champlain College Cabinet president, Sean Carlin. “Being able to physically show our support for the relationship between Curve Lake, Trent, and Champlain College was what made this event special to me.”

Posted on October 2, 2018