Mason Buffalo, the man who began the Walking in Spirit Suicide Awareness Walk, leads what will be the final one on the Samson Cree Nation. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

Final walk concludes at healing village near Maskwacis

Long seven year journey comes to an end for awareness walk

A walk that brought awareness and healing to those affected by suicide on Maskwacis has concluded its journey.

Mason Buffalo, organizer of the Walking in Spirit Suicide Awareness Walk that was held Aug. 28, knew this event would end, but kept it going for a few more years at the urging of many friends.

“Back in 2010, I used to be a firefighter and first responder in Maskwacis and ended up going to many suicide scenes. Those began to traumatize my life, so I moved to Toronto to get away from it. I got to a point where I wanted to give up, to commit suicide,” Buffalo said.

“After I arrived, a lady came up to me and asked if I had lost anyone recently. She told me she saw a spirit attached to me when I came in, so instead of taking it as a negative, I turned it into a positive by telling myself I could do something for my community.

So, after spending some time studying acting and learning some Iroquois songs and dances, Buffalo returned and got to work.

“Instead of taking it as a dark thing, let’s start talking about it and bringing it into the light,” he said.

“It takes one person to start a ripple effect, so I said I would do it for four years.”

The first one, from Wetaskiwin to Maskwacis, drew 500 walkers, showing he wasn’t the only one struggling. After the third walk, he took a year off to plan for the last one, but people kept telling him to continue and he did.

However this year, the seventh one, was going to be it as now is the time for some action.

“When we lose someone now, it’s like the new norm out here, not like it was long ago when everyone was devastated. You have to appreciate life and that’s why I have created a safe haven, a healing village, where this walk, this journey will end,” he explained.

His vision is to eventually have 10 cabins plus a number of tepees on his land, called Mostosomay Village, to help people struggling and find a purpose while also knowing they are not alone.

“Many times we lose hope, motivation and we need to be there to pick one another up. Please, reach out and don’t be ashamed of what you’re feeling,” Buffalo added.

 

Everyone of the participants in the last walk received a t-shirt and a water bottle before heading out on the lengthy journey to the healing village. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

Many walkers, including this young people, carried signs with the names of friends or family that have taken their own lives, in hopes that it would help those presently struggling or those that have been left behind to deal with it. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

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