Two of my friends are on long walks right now.
Jason Meyers is walking the length of the Bruce Trail, a total of 885 kilometers, through some of the most lovely country remaining in Southern Ontario. He is joined by his partner, singer and songwriters Bri-anne Swan, who will be performing concerts along the way. Jason and Bri-anne’s odyssey is being under taken to raise awareness of and money for research into a cure for Multiple Sclerosis.
Alexandra Morton is walking down the length of Vancouver Island, having started by boat on Malcolm Island at the mouth of The Broughton Archipelago, and will arrive in Victoria on May 8th, after walking more than 450 kilometers and visiting dozens of communities along the way.
Alex is walking for wild salmon. Dubbed “the get out migration” she and dozens – and likely hundreds before she reaches her destination — of others are walking to send a clear message to Canada’s federal government: that open net fish farms are killing wild salmon. These wild creatures are the electric current that charge the Pacific coast. Hundreds of communities depend on them. The only acceptable solution is to get the salmon farms out of wild salmon habitat and onto land where they can be better controlled.
Both of these extraordinary people are pilgrims and I am enormously proud to know them.
Jason is a pretty close friend. We met in 2001 or 02 in Canmore, Alberta where Jason was working for a marketing company and I was working for a small conservation group called Wildcanada.net. Jason came on board as a volunteer to help us get our act together, giving us valuable insight into how to reach new markets with our conservation message. Shortly thereafter we hired him and I think his life went downhill after that. Now he has a thriving web strategy company called Five Stones and lives in Toronto. He has supported me through some pretty tough decisions and rocky times, and I am grateful for his devoted friendship.
He is one of the most earnest, loyal and hard working people I have ever met. He describes himself as “part technocrat, part gypsy, part mountain goat” and is happiest and most at peace while walking. Recently he walked the 900 kilometer Camino de Santiago trail in Spain and I’m pretty sure that journey changed his life. Both he and Bri-anne have people close to them who are affected by MS, and so the He Walks, She Rocks journey is dedicated to them.
I’ve only met Alex Morton once, at her home in Sointula, on Malcolm Island, where she was kind enough to take me in and feed me wild salmon while I was researching The Darkening Archipelago. Alex is the most passionate and reasonable voice I’ve ever met for salmon and the ecosystem that they bind together. She measures her ardor with a scientist’s eye for levelheaded insight into what is destroying our oceans and practical solutions for restoring it to health. She read and latter “blurbed” for the DA, and her insight made it a better book without a doubt.
That these two amazing people are walking, each for a cause that is close to their hearts and critically important, at the same time is no coincidence.
Pilgrimage is a part of most every major religion in the world. Muslims have Mecca, Jews have Jerusalem, Buddhists have the Bodi tree at Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India. When we journey to these places, we do so for intensely personal reasons. While the outward journey may be one of self sacrifice, of faith, of community, the inward journey may be about compassion, devotion, and love.
It is this love that is needed so desperately now, at this perilous and profoundly opportunistic intersection in human evolution. When people are capable of such love for life, for friends, for family, for the wild earth that we are inextricably a part of, there is cause for hope, for joy, for our future.
Two people surrounded by many, each on a journey for something that they love. Join them.
The He Walks She Rocks journey: www.hewalkssherocks.ca.
The Get Out Migration: www.salmonaresacred.org.